Sol Plaatje Municipality in dire financial straits due to outstanding payment of R1.5bn

Sol Plaatje Municipality in dire financial straits due to outstanding payment of R1.5bn

The Sol Plaatje Municipality in Kimberley in the Northern Cape says it is in dire financial straits. This is as government departments, businesses and indigent households owe the municipality about R1.5 billion.
The municipality says due to this escalating debt they are unable to pay Eskom, the Department of Water and Sanitation, and other municipal suppliers. The municipality says a financial recovery plan established two years ago to recover financial losses came to halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, says plans are now afoot to collect revenue including cutting off services to those failing to pay the municipality.
“The municipality is owed about a billion rand by residents. In addition to that, it is about half a billion rand by the business community. We are aware that COVID did not really help the situation because a lot of businesses suffered and people also lost their jobs, that is why we are going out to say those who can make arrangements and those who can pay to also pay their bills. We are going to increase the rate of collecting revenue; things can’t really be as they are right now.”
Chamber of Commerce supports government’s plan
The Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is not opposed to the municipality’s plan to cut off services to businesses and households that fail to pay for electricity and water.
CEO of the Chamber, Sharon Steyn, says when the municipality cuts off services they should not be lenient towards government departments that are also in arrears.
“Look at government and how government is outstanding. Why don’t they just cut off one department’s electricity? So I think from the business side we need to say, very strongly, that stop putting it on paper and making promises, but abide and do what you say you want to do. Residents that owe so much money also I think cut them, but cut fairly. Due to COVID-19 we all have our issues, so my reasoning is let businesses let individuals sit down and make arrangements if they can and order it,” says Steyn.
Mixed views from residents
Residents in Kimberley have meanwhile expressed mixed emotions with some stating that those in a financial position to pay for services must do so.
“There are a lot of people not paying, that are supposed to pay. I agree with that but I don’t agree with cutting especially if there are pensioners living in a house. At least if the rates are dropped people will be able to afford,” says one of the residents.
Another resident says, “People, they must pay their debt for electricity and water because how is the council going to manage to keep the services going if people don’t pay?”
The municipality says it will be increasing its revenue collection efforts to ensure the sustainability of service delivery.

TDPel Media

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