An increased level of controversy has surrounded the proposed Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS), as it may cause fuel levies to increase up to 75% and reduced compensation is to be provided to road accident victims and those who depend on them.
Rather than a lump sum payout as the Road Accident Fund does, RABS will make provision payments over an extended period of time. Victims of road accidents will also be compensated regardless of whether they were responsible for the accident occurring or not.
Speaking to TimesLIVE, lawyer Kirstie Haslam said that if objections are not tabled following the public consultation process, RABS will go ahead.
“Other than the dire affect the Bill will have on accident victims’ claims‚ the failure to highlight the anticipated and unavoidable increase in the fuel levy to the public in order to meet the funding requirements for RABS is especially disturbing‚ considering the latest outcry about the price of fuel and the fuel levy itself‚” she said.
During the Parliamentary hearings, the Department of Transport disclosed the actuarial report it used to base the affordability of RABS on.
Its affordability is one of the cornerstones of the reasoning behind its introduction. Many individual actuaries, as well as the Actuarial Association of South Africa, have made presentations to the Portfolio Committee on Transport (PCT). These presentations recommended that the report should be subjected to a peer review.
Haslam added that an analysis of the department’s own actuaries’ estimation of the effect on the fuel levy indicated that there will be an increase in the fuel levy as both the Road Accident Fund and RABS will have to operate side-by-side for a minimum of 8-10 years.
“Even on this conservative estimate‚ the fuel levy is set to increase by an initial 75% which‚ even after 10 years will taper to a still significant 1.5 times of what it currently is‚” Haslam said. “This has not been explained to the public to date and may very well influence their attitude to the RABS Bill as it is being sold to them.”
Haslam is of the opinion that the focus should be shifted to fixing the current system as opposed to implementing something that is this costly.
Minors will be the most negatively impacted by the Bill, as those under the age of 18 years old will not be able to claim until they turn 18 years old.
“Once these isolated ‘public consultations’ have been completed‚ the Portfolio Committee on Transport is going to undertake a final review of the Bill and it is understood that there is an intention to push the Bill through within the current session of Parliament‚ this year‚ notwithstanding the wide-ranging objections which have been raised to it,” she said.
She also claims that no civil rights organizations have been given their opportunity to give their input on the Bill.