Gauteng MEC in­ter­venes to stop power cuts

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - BALD­WIN ND­ABA

THE Gauteng pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has promised to en­ter into ne­go­ti­a­tions with Eskom to set­tle the elec­tric­ity bills of its strug­gling mu­nic­i­pal­ity in a bid to avoid power be­ing cut to Em­fu­leni and Mer­a­fong lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Gauteng MEC for Fi­nance Bar­bara Creecy made the an­nounce­ment fol­low­ing a meet­ing she had with var­i­ous mem­bers of may­oral com­mit­tee for fi­nance from all Gauteng mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. The MECMMC of Fi­nance Fo­rum was con­vened to as­sess the state of mu­nic­i­pal fi­nances, gov­er­nance and ser­vices providers to ratepay­ers.

Gauteng mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties owe Eskom a com­bined amount of R1 bil­lion. “As the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment we are work­ing around the clock with Eskom to fi­nalise a clear pay­ment plan that will be hon­oured by the rel­e­vant mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for out­stand­ing debt to the power util­ity. We are com­mit­ted to en­sure that we avoid power cuts be­cause this will im­pact neg­a­tively on cit­i­zens, busi­nesses and ul­ti­mately lo­cal economies,” Creecy said.

She, how- ever, said the ac­counts of Mid­vaal, Mo­gale City and Lesedi Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were cur­rent and within 30 days.

Ear­lier in May, the DA be­came crit­i­cal about the plum­met­ing debt at Em­fu­leni Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and called on Creecy to in­ter­vene when Eskom threat­ened to cut the elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

Em­fu­leni elec­tric­ity debt stood at R114 mil­lion while it owed Rand Wa­ter R214m. At the time, the DA’s Em­fu­leni con­stituency head King­sol Cha­bal­ala said: “Mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion and poor fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion mak­ing are to blame for the col­lapse of ser­vice de­liv­ery in Em­fu­leni. Schools and clin­ics will now be placed at risk with­out wa­ter, while the mayor con­ducts his busi­ness in lux­ury from the Shake­speare Ho­tel”.

Creecy and her team said their lat­est in­ter­ven­tion would en­sure strug­gling mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties owned up to their debts.

Creecy said rev­enue col­lec­tion was still a chal­lenge in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across the met­ros which are owed R49bn.

“The big­gest debtors are res­i­dents and com­mer­cial cus­tomers ow­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties R31.8bn and R13bn re­spec­tively for ser­vices and taxes. Gov­ern­ment is the small­est debtor ac­count­ing for 3% of the to­tal out­stand­ing amount.

“In or­der to ad­dress house­hold debt, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties such as the City of Ekurhu­leni and City of Tsh­wane have em­barked on var­i­ous ini­tia­tives to en­cour­age con­sumers to pay.”

She also lam­basted these lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for fail­ing to spend their in­fra­struc­ture bud­get, say­ing they had man­aged to spend only 78% of their cap­i­tal bud­get by the end of June.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties col­lec­tively owe Eskom R1 bil­lion

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