Business chamber: ‘Lack of proper consultation over electricity tariffs’power hikes squeeze firms

2011-07-28 00:00

A LACK of proper consultation over the recent electricity tariff hikes and the termination of electricity incentives by the Msunduzi Municipality could force Pietermaritzburg businesses to shed jobs, the outgoing president of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), Tinus Havinga, warned yesterday.

Presenting his annual report at the annual general meeting at Chamber House yesterday, Havinga noted, however, that the new Msunduzi mayor now plans to consult the chamber more closely on such thorny issues.

Havinga said that although the chamber engaged the municipality early on in the electricity tariff-setting process, proper and meaningful consultation did not take place.

“The municipal officials took advantage of the chaos over the elections to push the budget through without the promised consultation. They had calculated increases to balance their budget, and they were not particularly interested in hearing what business or other ratepayers had to say.

“Business is already unhappy with the security and quality of supply that costs them hours of production and significant machinery replacement costs as a result of electricity surges. The removal of incentives and the higher tariffs effectively handed business a double whammy that put high electricity users under enormous strain.”

Havinga said that although the city had a challenging year, recording negative growth of 0,54% in 2010, the KZN economy shows signs of positive growth in 2011.

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