Residents owe bulk of R10 bln to councils

2012-06-06 00:00

ORDINARY households owe the bulk of municipal debt in KwaZulu-Natal, which has doubled to more than R10,2 billion since 2009.

Most of this money is owed in the two major urban centres of the province, eThekwini and Msunduzi. This emerged during the debate in the KZN Legislature on the consolidated statements on municipal budgets.

The KZN scenario fits in with figures released by the National Treasury yesterday, which shows that households are liable for almost two-thirds of the R76,6 billion owed to municipalities countrywide. The figures are from the Third Quarter Local Government Section 71 Report.

The report stated that the economic slowdown and “substantial increases in electricity tariffs were “starting to impact on the ability of consumers to pay for services”.

Roman Liptak (IFP) speaking in the provincial legislature, said a significant part of the KZN municipal debt was older than 90 days, which highlighted the poor debt collection capabilities of municipalities.

He thanked Finance MEC Ina Cronjé for ensuring that debt owed to municipalities by government departments were being paid.

George Mari (DA) described the debt situation as frightening. He was also concerned about the accuracy of information supplied by municipalities to the legislature

Cronjé, in her response to the debate, said the province was very serious about the government paying its debt. She said provincial and national teams had been set up to ensure that this was done.

Cronjé noted that 34,6% of all debt in KZN was from property rates, followed by water at 27%.

She said Treasury and the provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) were committed to helping municipalities improve their financial performance.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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