Western Cape municipal debts to Eskom, others
3 December 2019
Not one municipality in the Western Cape is currently behind on payments to Eskom or the relevant water boards in their region.
The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, Anton Bredell, instituted an impromptu check of the thirty municipalities in the province following increased concern about municipal debt to Eskom and water boards. Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) is meeting on the matter today.
“I was heartened to find that not one of our municipalities in the Western Cape are currently in danger of having their water or electricity cut off due to non-payment. We have one municipality where there is a long-term debt owed to Eskom but that debt already has a payment plan in place that the council is sticking to.”
Bredell says that there is no excuse for municipalities not paying Eskom.
“Municipalities get electricity from Eskom at a discounted, fixed rate and then charge an additional overhead tariff to their customers, income which is used by the councils to provide better services to their communities. The councils are meant to pay over the cost of the goods procured to Eskom and they can use the rest to spend per their approved budgets. But when municipalities start spending it all before paying Eskom or a water board, then they run into trouble.”
Bredell says indigent communities receive free basic electricity, water and other services from their municipalities and this should not be used as an excuse by councils for non-payment.
“Municipalities get subsidised to be able to provide free basic services to their indigent communities. We have some very poor municipalities in the Western Cape too but they are still able to pay their dues. The bottom line is good management is key to managing councils and ensuring communities lights are not cut.
I want to highlight the hard work done by councils in the Western Cape as well as officials in the department of local government in the province in this regard.”
Bredell says recent reports by the Auditor-General provides further reassurance about the state of the finances of municipalities in the Western Cape.
“We had 26 out of thirty councils get unqualified audits in the latest round of audits. And none of our councils are currently in need of urgent financial intervention. While we remain concerned about looming budget cuts from national government and the impact thereof on service delivery moving forward, we will continue doing what we can to deliver the best services possible to all our communities.”
Issued by James-Brent Styan,Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, 3 December 2019