PMB will get by if rates paid

2010-08-09 00:00

FEARS by residents that Pietermaritzburg will be plunged into darkness because the Msunduzi Municipality has cash for only three days have not materialised.

City administrator Johann Mettler assured residents that the situation is not as bad as it sounds.

In answer to questions, he told The Witness that the turnaround team is on top of the situSKation and that no matter how difficult the job, it will find a way forward.

It emerged in a discussion at the KZN Legislature last week that the city has funds for only three days and that neither the provincial or national governmentis offering to bail it out.

Mettler said that having only three days’ cash reserves is a difficulty, but that it would be a problem only if the city receives no cash for for three days while having to spend at normal levels.

“That scenario is not likely to occur. In fact, it is nearly inconceivable. Our cash flow problems do have an impact on our asset maintenance plans, but we are making every effort to alleviate the problems we face in that respect,” he said.

He said the administration continues to engage with the National Treasury to get money to prevent tampering with electricity boxes and to instal water district meters that would better manage water losses.

“Both initiatives will result in increased revenue for the municipality in that we will be able to bill for more electricity sold and will be able to cut down on water losses and bill more for water simultaneously,” said Mettler.

He said that while a bail-out would relieve the immediate pressure, it is not absolutely necessary.

“We have been managing quite well for the last four months and things are looking up.

“I venture to say that, bail-out or not, we will turn this city around and restore it to its former glory as the City of Choice within KZN.

“We are carefully managing the cash flow of the municipality and have been doing so for the past four months. During that time we have managed to pay all of our bulk providers like Eskom and Umgeni water board. We are also up to date with all of our statutory payments.

“But managing cash flow also means that we had to concentrate on increasing our revenue and we have made major strides in getting our services, like water and electricity, paid for by our consumers.

“Although I cannot confirm the exact figure, our payment rates have increased from the 55% that we found when we got here.

“Our level of service delivery has improved significantly and it is clear to see by the generally cleaner city and the fewer service delivery complaints my office receives on a daily basis.”

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