PMB set for 22% electricity hike

2011-06-23 00:00

MSUNDUZI ratepayers should brace themselves for a probable 22% electricity tariff increase soon.

The municipality has applied to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) for the increase, which is more than Nersa guidelines of 20,38% for the 2011/12 financial year.

Msunduzi is one of six KZN municipalities to apply to Nersa for tariff increases. The others are Nkandla with 24%, Umvoti (Greytown) with 24,80%, Emnambithi-Ladysmith 22,38%, uMhlathuze (Richards Bay and Empangeni) with 25% and Umtshezi (Estcourt) with 23%.

According to a Nersa statement, Msunduzi said it needs the extra hike to fund the upgrading of infrastructure and electricity meters.

Nersa spokesperson Charles Hlebela said all municipalities that have applied for increases above the guidelines made their presentations during public hearings on June 15.

The final decision will be published at the end of June, he said.

Advocate Ashin Singh, a member of the Msunduzi Rates Forum (MRF), commented, “The municipality is going to see the anger of the ratepayers because it is the average ratepayer who pays for services that the municipality is not even providing.”

He said the tariff increase is directly linked to the theft of electricity by formal businesses, landlords and informal settlements, and the loss is being passed to paying users.

If the council goes ahead with the increase, he warned, the MRF will mobilise ratepayers to boycott the municipality because they are paying exorbitant rates for poor services.

Singh said the MRF is also aware that the municipality is planning a massive water tariff increase in order to maintain and upgrade the water infrastructure.

Tinus Havinga, president of Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said the PCB had discussions with the municipality about the budget before the elections.

“We raised our concerns about a number of budget items and felt that more consultation should take place.”

Havinga said the budget has not yet been approved and the PCB is in discussion with the new leadership. “We will be in a better position to comment once our discussions are finalised and the budget is approved.”

Umvoti acting municipal manager Martin Swanlow said that last year the increase guideline was published at 23%, but this was lowered to 20,38% last month.

“When the new council sits to discuss the new budget we will bring that to their attention so that we can get the final electricity tariffs for Umvoti, which should be in line with Nersa guidelines,” he added.

A confidential source at Msunduzi said that if a ratepayer presently paying R400 for electricity will pay an extra R80 after the tariff increase.

He said the municipality may be looking at adjusting other tariffs, such as refuse collection and water, to provide relief for ratepayers.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said he could not comment until the new council has been briefed. It would issue a statement on the tariff increase as soon as the matter is tabled.

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