The Eastern Cape Province is owed in excess of R 4,7 billion in outstanding rates and service fees by consumers.
“In a written reply to a parliamentary question I received from the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, I was informed that the total amount owing of rates, services and other fees stood at R 4 707 407 922 as at April 2012” said Dacre Haddon from the Democratic Alliance.
The Nelson Mandela Metro was owed R 2 million in outstanding rates,R 30 million for water and R 10 million for electricity.
The Camdeboo municipality is owed R 3million in rates alone whilethe tiny Makana municipality is owed R 107 million.
Buffalo City Metro has a full R 868 million owing for all combined services including rates.
R 4 billion would go a long way to build infrastructure, clinics and maintain schools, hospitals and roads in the Eastern Cape.
While the current levels of unemployment and economic hardship are a reality for most in the province, not enough is being done to ensure that citizens who can pay something are assisted by payment arrangements to do so.
With provincial revenue largely given by national government in the form of grants and Equitable Share, such large outstanding amounts will become unsustainable over the medium to long term unless municipalities make a concerted effort to collect all revenue due where possible.
Failure to implement strategies to collect all revenues due will continue to keep citizens in poverty and deny opportunity for social upliftment as the demands for services escalate and outstrip current revenue levels.