Exactly how much do residents owe Pretoria?
PRETORIA, (CAJ News) – AT the recent launch of an intensive revenue collection programme, Pretoria Mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, disclosed some residents had defaulted on municipal services payments and prejudiced the city to the tune of R6 billion.
It has however been alleged the problems run deeper than that.
First, there are allegations the figure given by the mayor is conservative in the face of such a problem besetting the capital city.
While residents have been accused for defaulting, there are suggestions a billing crisis is to blame.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Finance, Lex Middelberg, has alleged the figure could be as high as R9 billion, yet, he says, the city is writing off R1 billion worth of debts every year.
In an interview with Gauteng Guardian, Middelberg says this amounts to a crisis.
“There is a billing crisis at the City of Tshwane and there is a need to reduce expenditure while at the same time stopping doing illegal payments. The city is writing off R1 billion debts every year. They are collecting less and less money every year and indications are that residents are financial pressure,” says Middelberg.
“They have introduced a call centre system to effect revenue collection in Centurion, but the system is ineffective. It needs total revamp,” a downbeat Middelberg says.
“The mayor is always targeting suburbans when it comes to payment of debts leaving the real people who are owing the city in the townships.”
Blessing Manale, the City of Tshwane spokesperson, acknowledges the capital is owed “huge sums” of money but could not shed clarity on the correct figure.
“The mayor has confirmed that the city is owed and that is why we launched operation ‘Mmogo Re a Gola’ which aims to enhance the city’s revenue through consistent payment of municipal bills. We
launched this programme specifically to deal with this issue which will spearhead collection of electricity and water bills from the residents. We are encouraging the residents to pay on time,” says Manale.
Manale says through the Mmogo Re A Gola programme, Pretoria has launched a renewed and concerted effort and measures to radically reduce the city’s debts book as it relates to rates and taxes.
“Residents must be informed of the consequences of not paying for their municipal services and for turning a blind eye to the rampant illegal use of government’s infrastructure and the subsequent adverse effects on the city’s development,” says Manale.
Through Mmogo Re A Gola, a series of education campaigns are planned across the city wherein Tshwane’s Finance officials will be interacting with communities and various stakeholders to drive home the ideal of embracing the responsibility of being an active citizenry in order to contribute to the city’s development.
In addition to paying for municipal services, residents will be urged to assist the municipality preserve the city’s infrastructure by reporting burst water pipes, illegal electricity connections, broken street lights and any other interruptions.
“It is the responsibility of residents to pay municipal accounts in full. Each resident can proclaim that indeed it is my responsibility to play my part in the revenue management of my city,” Ramokgopa says.
– CAJ News
Short URL: http://cajnewsafrica.com/?p=12529