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Durban - The chief executive of municipal accounts watchdog Munsolve has chastised municipalities for “killing the goose which lays the golden egg” by increasing water tariffs when thousands of litres are lost in the system.
“It is immoral,” said an impassioned Frans Rootman.
“Money could be better spent managing the loss than increasing tariffs, which increases the burden on the consumer.”
Speaking at the Institute for Financial Municipal Officers conference at Durban’s ICC on Tuesday, he encouraged the officers from around the country to think of ratepayers as customers and not a nuisance, and to work always with the retention of the “critical mass of paying consumers” in mind.
The role of the institute was to ensure effective service delivery, and besides the accounting function, municipal financial officers needed to control the income and expenditure of rates and taxes of communities, the analysis of information and the implications for sound municipal finances.
Rootman told the delegates census statistics were a valuable planning tool and should be used in determining budgets, services needed and billing.
Reminding financial municipal officers that their purpose was to improve the quality of life of residents, he said they should be transparent in how they conducted readings rather than relying on estimates.
“It is criminal to disconnect electricity supply based on estimates.”
He added that disclosure gained people’s trust and did away with suspicion of fraud and corruption, but also urged ratepayers to participate meaningfully in budget hearings, for example, instead of complaining afterwards.
In setting tariffs, municipalities had to be mindful of balancing sustainability and giving ratepayers value for money, said Rootman.
“The resident who comes in to complain must be held in high esteem. They are there at their own expense because they are confident you can still solve their problem. They have not yet decided to stop paying,” he added.