‘Pay back municipalities’, opposition tells government

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Opposition parties in the North West have called on municipalities in the province that are owed by provincial and national departments to take the necessary steps against them. Parties say municipalities in the province are owed more than R1.8 billion in rates and taxes.

Parties insist government must pay rates and taxes like other businesses.

According to the Democratic Alliance in the North West Provincial Legislature, national government departments owe municipalities over R872 million. Provincial departments owe R984 million. A large chunk of the debt is owed to the Mahikeng Local Municipality to which national and provincial departments owe more than R852 million. City of Matlosana is owed R175 million, while Moses Kotane, and Madibeng Local municipalities are owed more than R298 million and R168 million respectively.

DA member of the Provincial Legislature, Freddy Sonakile, says payment systems in the province have collapsed.

“We have the provincial co-ordinating committee that is useless – because, remember the provincial co-ordinating committee houses all departments and municipalities together, and this is where your issues of inter-governmental relations must come in to say government must be able to pay another government or organ of state. So how are you expecting private people to do same if government on its own is unable to deal with other organ of state to do the same and start paying? So we believe that this shows that systems have collapsed not only in municipalities but from the top structures,” states Sonakile.

Papiki Babuile, the provincial secretary for the Economic Freedom Fighters in the North West says drastic measures must be taken against departments which do not pay for services.

“SALGA must encourage municipalities to switch off services that they are providing to government departments which are not paying, so that everybody else can learn. It must not be selective; [they] go to the poor of poorest and switch off electricity and water because these people do not have the means to pay for those services. They rely on government for survival,” Babuile remarked.

Meanwhile, the provincial Treasury Department says some departments are failing to pay for services because the billing systems of some municipalities are inaccurate.

“The billing at times is disputed by a particular department. We have a way of how they follow up the issues where the figures are disputed, but at the provincial level we are working with Public Works and on a quarterly basis public works gives us a report on which departments have not paid. If the departments have not paid, we follow up with that department to make sure that it is done properly,” explained a representative from the province’s Treasury Department.

The North West Treasury Department has called on municipalities to fix their billing systems .