Small business now also wants metro to write off debt

2015-07-15 06:00

THE National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) wants its members’ electricity debts written off by the municipality, saying they are just as entitled to this as high-energy users are.

This comes after R100-million owed by high-energy users to the municipality for unpaid electricity bills and interest was written off.

Nafcoc represents SMME’s and is, according to its website, an independent and non-profit business support organisation primarily, but not exclusively, serving the black community.

According to DA leader Retief Odendaal, the council approved the deal with reservations after it was put into a corner by big business in a settlement which involved 13 high-energy users.

Only R45-million of the R140-million owed by big business had been recouped by the municipality, said UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani.

Bobani said the agreement had been approved by the council with reservations as most of the councillors were against this settlement.

Now Nafcoc president Mnyamezeli Dyalabe says he wants the metro to write off the R20-million in debt that its members owe the metro.

“It’s unfair that they release the big industry players and leave us out of that deal. We contribute greatly to the economy of this metro and we cannot survive with these high tariffs imposed on us,” said Dyalabe.

He said they had on several occasions requested this from the municipality and the local ruling party, but their request had fallen on deaf ears. “We want the same treatment. We also employ a number of people in these communities. What would they say if we closed shop?” he added.

Bobani said he was aware of this plea by Nafcoc and had raised his concerns with mayor Danny Jordaan before the matter was tabled in council.

“We saw this coming and we knew that others would come out saying they wanted their debts written off,” Bobani said.

Odendaal said 50% of the electricity in the metro was consumed by high energy users who made up the bulk of the municipality’s clients. “We warned against the administration fighting against business because we saw this coming. The 2014/15 budget had flaws and the minority opposition also voted for this budget. The reality is that we now have to ensure a sustainable metro,” Odendaal said.

Cope councillor Mzwandile Hote said the settlement had been hugely influenced by the more than 4 000 jobs that could be lost if the high-energy users moved their business.

“I understand the frustration of black business, but it’s unfair to say that all business debt now has to be written off. We have never heard any of Nafcoc’s concerns or we would have raised them in council. We are saying they must come to us so we can assist them in any way we can,” Hote said.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler said he could not comment on the matter as they had agreed with the high-energy users as well as the municipality to keep the matter confidential

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