Residents all reject new tariffs

2013-02-23 00:00

BUSINESSES and ratepayers yesterday rejected Msunduzi Municipality’s proposed tariff increases, saying they would cripple the city.

This came out during a heated public participation meeting called by the municipality for the ratepayers, business and non-profit organisations to debate the proposed tariff increases for the 2013/14 financial year.

All those who attended rejected the proposed tariff increases of 18% on electricity, 10% on water and 5,5% on all rates, accusing the municipality of “daylight robbery”.

The president of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), Paris Dlamini, said the municipality should have improved its debt collection capacity to recover at least 60% of the R1,5 billion owed to it, instead of hiking tariffs.

CEO of the PCB, Melanie Veness, said the PCB acknowledged the need for a viable municipality, but was deeply concerned about the state of Pietermaritzburg. “Not a single municipal function is being carried out satisfactorily. This is evident from the lodged objections.”

Veness said the PCB believed that resources were not properly managed and that the budget could be balanced by cost management instead of raising tariffs. “Business is the backbone of the municipality and therefore council must ensure that it is able to retain and attract new investors to create much needed jobs,” she said.

She said the proposed tariff increase for electricity should fall within the tariff limits proposed by Eskom or municipalities, which were still to be determined.

“We object to the proposed water tariff because it far exceeds inflation and is unaffordable,” she said.

Msunduzi Rates Forum, South African National Civic Organisation, Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action, Scottsville Rates Forum and members of the public all rejected the proposed rates.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the purpose of the meeting was to have dialogue with residents and business about the proposed increases. “We wanted to engage with all of you so that we can come up with the best result for our city,” he said. Nkosi said there was still a long way to go before the proposed tariff increases were finalised. “We still have to submit our proposal to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa,” he said.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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