DA concerned about proposed Acsa tariff hike

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday expressed concern at the Airports Company South Africa’s (Acsa) proposed 132,9% tariff hike to ”enable the company to reward its investors adequately for their investments”.

”This would place a further burden on the already stressed consumer, and the decision is particularly problematic given the reasons that Acsa has used to justify the hike,” DA spokesperson Stuart Farrow said.

Acsa had denied that the tariff hike was necessitated by a funding shortfall due to accelerated infrastructure development for the 2010 World Cup as it was able to secure loans to cover this, he said.

”This is misleading — acquiring a loan results in the ancillary responsibility of repayment.

”Acsa may indeed have been able to successfully borrow money, but they do not appear to have the funds to pay this money back, thus presumably necessitating the tariff hike,” Farrow said.

The need for a tariff hike might also have been caused by the R1,7-billion cost overrun experienced due to construction of La Mercy Airport in KwaZulu-Natal.

Instead of placing the burden of constructing this airport on the consumer, Acsa should rather consider allowing Durban International Airport to be sold to the highest bidder and the funds used to offset some of the capital against La Mercy.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele should look at various options to ensure that Acsa had sufficient funding.

These included a large cash injection from the 2010 World Cup infrastructure fund, lifting the moratorium on the sale of Acsa shares, allowing Acsa to consider listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, taking over some of the loans entered into by Acsa for its development projects by the state to alleviate the burden on Acsa, or returning dividend funds derived as the major shareholder in Acsa.

Also, the model and the methodology of determining the tariff by the Economic Regulator needed to be re-examined.

The current regulator was of a temporary nature and only met on an ad hoc basis.

Legislation needed to be passed making it a permanent structure and its mandate widened to include long-term interests of the airline industry.

The DA would pose further questions on the matter and would write to Ndebele calling for an industry lekgotla to discuss alternatives to the proposed tariff hike, Farrow said. — Sapa

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