Msunduzi struggling to collect debt

2011-06-27 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality is still struggling to recover money it is owed and the May monthly report shows that the number of debtors is increasing.

Executive committee (Exco) member Babu Baijoo expressed concern that money owing after six months stands at over R400 million.

Jabu Ngubo (ANC) said she was reminded that in his report to the new council administrator Sbu Sithole had said the debt collection rate stood at 37%. She asked whether any effort is being made to increase this.

Sithole said Ngubo was quite right and that the municipality has experienced erratic collection trends. He said a lot more people were paying when Operation Pitbull was first put in place.

“As that process wound down old habits set in. We are looking at institutionalising some processes, like having a permanent collection squad that will target all areas,”

Sithole said the municipality is reviewing all debt as it has found that some of the money is not recoverable because of how the arrears were estimated in the past. Reports covering all aspects of debt collection will be presented to the council so it can decide what might have to be written off.

The administrator said a concerted effort is being made to consolidate all bills so that the collection is more efficient. Some debtors have taken the municipality to court, disputing the amounts.

Acting municipal manager Thokozana Maseko said letters of demand have been sent to the 100 biggest debtors and since then a number of people had approached the municipality and made arrangements to pay.

Exco members expressed their satisfaction that Eskom and Umgeni Water, bulk suppliers to the municipality, have been paid and that there is still money in the kitty. This time last year the municipality was struggling to find money to cover the higher winter demand rate from Eskom.

Bill Lambert of the Democratic Alliance asked if small contractors are being paid because there have been complaints from contractors about delays in payment. He said this has a knock-on effect because the contractors in turn cannot pay their workers.

Sithole said payments are done monthly and if there are delays this was because invoices are being scrutinised and certain reconciliations have to be done.

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