Amnesty on lights, water accounts for 175th anniversary

2013-08-02 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality has found a way to use Pietermaritzburg’s 175th birthday to reduce the R1,4 billion on its debtors’ book.

It has launched a 175th anniversary debt collection campaign.

It is offering a special amnesty to long-term debtors who have large amounts outstanding on their lights and water accounts.

For every R175 paid, the debtor will get the same amount (R175) deducted from their account.

Unfortunately, not everyone can jump on the bandwagon. The amnesty applies only to outstanding housing, water and electricity bills.

These must have been 120 days in arrears as of July 1, 2013.

The amnesty will be for a limited period only, running from September 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014.

The amnesty does not apply to rates debt as this is administered in terms of the Municipal Properties Rates Act.

The amnesty will also not apply to government departments.

The proposal drew heated debate at yesterday’s executive committee meeting. The DA’s councillor Mergan Chetty queried why those who owed money were being rewarded and not the people who paid regularly and on time.

“I am not objecting to the proposal; my concern is that people will take advantage.”

The ANC’s Jabu Ngubo agreed that those who pay should be rewarded.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the aim was to help clear the debtors’ book. He said the older a debt was, the more doubtful it became that council would be paid. Hence, this once-off gesture to create the space for debtors to come forward and pay.

Nkosi said that if the city achieved only a 40% collection rate on this campaign, they would be able to shave off more than R128 million from the debtors’ book.

Msunduzi chief financial officer Nelly Ngcobo said this campaign did not mean the end of other debt collecting initiatives.

Legal action against debtors would continue. Letters were being written requesting payment, followed by legal processes.

People were responding positively and making arrangements to pay.

Ngcobo was optimistic the amnesty would speed up collection.

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