The Mercury

Municipali­ties in KZN owed R63 million

Public Works in debt to 30 councils


THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works owes more than R63 million in property rates to about 30 municipali­ties in the province.

This emerged from questions asked in the provincial legislatur­e by the DA. Those owed money include eThekwini, Msunduzi, Mooi Mpofana (Mooi River) and Inkosi Langalibal­ele (Estcourt) municipali­ties.

A breakdown of the amounts owed shows that about R46m is more than 150 days in arrears, R13.9m is between 120 and 150 days old, and R2.9m has been owed for between 90 and 120 days old.

The department said it normally paid its accounts within 30 days.

Public Works spokespers­on Mbulelo Baloyi said there were ongoing discussion­s with the municipali­ties to address the issue. Part of the problem was that municipali­ties’ rates increases had been higher than the department had budgeted for, he said.

“That causes a shortfall. We would like to get real-time projection­s of rates increases from municipali­ties.”

He said some of the rates bills had not been paid because they were being disputed.

Public Works also said in its response that, at times, the municipali­ties did not timeously bill them for rates due to their (municipali­ty) internal resource challenges, which then caused payment delays.

DA MPL and spokespers­on on Public Works, Martin Meyer, said the party regarded it as inconceiva­ble that while so many of KZN’s municipali­ties were struggling to keep the lights on, the biggest culprit when it came to paying bills on time was a provincial department.

“The situation in many of our municipali­ties is so dire that every rand of outstandin­g debt could be the difference between providing services or not, and even paying salaries or not,” said Meyer.

He said they expected Public Works MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, and her department to take immediate steps to address this. The provincial government could not be one of the main contributo­rs to municipali­ties’ woes, Meyer said.

“It is also unacceptab­le that while residents and businesses are expected to always pay their utilities and rates on time – or face having their services cut – that KZN’s ANC-led government is allowed to have its debt spiral out of control without any action being taken.

“This is a slap in the face to every law-abiding citizen in our province,” he said.

In Parliament yesterday, it was disclosed that the government owed service providers nationally about R7.1 billion. Provincial authoritie­s failed to pay R6.5bn within the required 30 days in 2018/19, and national department­s failed to make payments totalling R634m.

“The DA reiterates our call for a comprehens­ive public spending review,” said Dr Leon Schreiber MP, who elaborated on the damage that late state payments were inflicting on the country.

 ??  ?? SANRAL has said it is looking to complete the roadworks on the N2 near Ballito before the end of next year.
SANRAL has said it is looking to complete the roadworks on the N2 near Ballito before the end of next year.

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