‘Do away with MCB charge’

2016-05-30 10:32
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - The DA has called for Msunduzi Municipality to completely remove the mini circuit breaker (MCB) charge on electricity from next year’s budget proposal.

Delivering the opposition party’s alternative budget for 2016/2017, David Ryder said residents are paying a duplicate amount for the same service rendered. He was referring to residents being charged both an MCB charge and a basic monthly charge on their electricity bill.

“The DA’s concern is why should residents pay this charge when they are already burdened with a fixed MCB charge? Other municipalities do not have both,” Ryder said.

Although the party supported most of the tariff increases proposed by the ANC-led municipality, Ryder said it was “distressing” that the budget was tabled at a time when the municipality was in “confusion and uncertainty”.

“It is an embarrassment that our municipality has the dubious honour of currently being subjected to three investigations to interrogate accusations of financial mismanagement and dereliction of duty by senior officials,” he said adding that the party awaits the outcomes of the investigations with “both interest and trepidation”.

He said the mistrust and suspicion existing in the “upper echelons” of the municipality is of great concern and the “situation must be having a serious effect on staff morale, commitment and performance”.

He lambasted the ANC-led council, saying it seemed the municipality is incapable of completing a five-year term without an investigation being required into the running of its affairs.

“It happened in 2010 and has happened again in 2016. ANC infighting and political interference in the management of the municipality are the common denominators in each instance.”

Ryder said the DA would also substantially reduce the budget for the state-of-the-city address and the Service Excellence Awards to “more moderate levels” and direct savings into service delivery.

“We would review all sponsorship arrangements and reduce municipal involvement in such events,” he said.

The DA also proposed that any approved indigent person and disability grantee who is a property owner receive a 50% rebate irrespective of their age or value of their property.

“We are also proposing a 100% rebate on rates of child-headed households,” Ryder said.

He was comparing this to the 40% rebate for females aged 60 years and over, males aged 63 years and older and child-headed households with a total income of R3 740 suggested by the municipal budget for 2016/2017.

Speaking on the outstanding debt owed to the municipality, Ryder said the inability of the municipality to collect the majority of the money owed for rates and service charges “seriously impacted on our cash reserves and inhibited our ability to fund urgent needs within the municipality”.

“We cannot continue to carry and finance this ever increasing debtor book. We need to see a steady decline in the value of our outstanding debtors during 2016/17,” he said, adding that the DA supported the amnesty project that will be launched in June this year.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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