Over R13bn owed to KZN municipalities - Cogta MEC

2017-05-09 21:34
Sars (File)

Sars (File)

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Durban - The KZN Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs department is to enlist the services of SARS as its municipalities across the province seek to recoup more than R13bn owed by customers.

This was revealed by Cogta MEC Nomsa Dube-Ncube at the KZN Legislature on Tuesday when she presented the department’s R1.5bn budget.

According to the MEC, households, businesses and government departments form part of the customers that were not living up to their end of the bargain and this was threatening the existence of some municipalities.

“We want to strengthen the enforcement to enable municipalities to deal decisively with deliberately defaulting customers and we will look at options of legally accessing creditor information from SARS, banks and credit bureaux.

"Consumers run the risk of having properties attached for owing debts to municipalities,” the MEC warned.

Dube-Ncube told Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) that, more alarming, was that households owed R7.9bn - an equivalent of 60% of the overall total.

There are fears that some households may have unduly benefited from government’s indigent policy by falsifying information about their financial status.  

“We have to uncover those who illegally benefit from policies meant for the poor and indigent. They own mansions in townships and rural areas, while they do not pay for water and electricity. It is unfortunate that people prioritise payment for DStv over payment for municipal services. This has to change,” the MEC insisted.  

She told MPLs that managing debt and good governance were crucial for the survival of municipalities.

According to the MEC 23 cases of fraud and corruption were reported to her department since last year and this had prompted 23 forensic investigations. Sixteen had been finalised, while seven were pending. The investigations across municipalities in KZN covered areas such as:

•         R2.5mn in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
•         Directors who did not have the experience or qualifications to hold senior positions.
•         Contracts awarded on roads that were never constructed.

The MEC said disciplinary action would be taken against senior officials including municipal managers and chief financial officers on the fingered municipalities, while criminal cases would be opened with SAPS and civil recovery would be launched against implicated individuals.

According to Dube–Ncube this was a clear illustration of a department that was keen on dealing with corruption in municipalities.

Opposition parties welcomed the MEC’s budget, but called for a more even handed approach when conducting investigations, suggesting that Dube-Ncube was more lenient toward ANC controlled councils.

Read more on:    sars  |  durban  |  service delivery

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