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State owes municipalities R837m in rates and services

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Published Apr 25, 2022

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CAPE TOWN- The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) owes municipalities across the country a staggering R837 million in rates and services as at the first two months of this year.

This emerged in written replies by Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille when she replied to Parliamentary questions from Freedom Front Plus MP Philip van Staden and DA MP Haseena Ismail.

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Van Staden wrote to the minister asking about the 81 575 properties under the custodian of her department that are arrears with property tax as well as the amount owed to individual municipalities.

Ismail enquired about the amount the department owed to each municipality for services rendered.

In her written reply, De Lille said there were 10 483 accounts with arrears balances submitted by 145 municipalities to the department as at January 31.

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“The total outstanding arrears amount on property rates as per age analysis from the municipalities was R611 million,” she said.

De Lille reply showed the breakdown of the R611 348 202.80 in arrears per regional office as follows:

• Bloemfontein regional office owed R16 342 786.38.

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• Cape Town regional office R274 320 970.32.

• Durban regional office R108 716 589.05.

•Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth regional office R4 928 936.85.

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• Johannesburg regional office R67 399 359.40.

• Kimberley regional office R5 893 086.00.

• Mmabatho regional office R35 005 763.20.

• Polokwane regional office R4 170 733.60.

• Pretoria regional office R70 182 174.00; and

• Mthatha regional office R70 182 174.00.

De Lille said the department has since analysed the age analysis and the accounts to confirm the accuracy of the reported amounts.

She said their analysis showed that R885 577.19 was for bills not yet received, R35 148 971.50 were amounts billed annually but not yet due and R24 917 7726.82 disputes over property ownership, incorrect billing and interest charged, among others.

The minister added that a further R3 304 720.98 in payment was rejected due to change of municipal bank account, R383 340 408.43 in payments not allocated by municipalities, R40 503 948.83 in reconciliations in progress and R123 246 849.05 was for state domestic facilities and Ingonyama Trust Board properties.

De Lille said the department could confirm that only R76m billed by the municipalities was outstanding as per the age analysis of the municipality but not yet due and payable.

She also said the department did not pay annual property rates in advance but paid them monthly.

“While municipalities may be reflecting the annual property rates as due and payable, and invariably overdue, there are few instances where invoices are not paid within 30 days.”

De Lille insisted that the department processed all valid invoices received within the stipulated time-frame indicated by municipalities since their invoices were due and payable below the regulated 30 days of receipt of invoice.

“DWPI has made payments across all 257 municipalities to the value of R1.8 billion (March 2021: R1.3bn),” she said.

Responding to Ismail on money owed for municipal services, De Lille said R226 793 728.61 was owed as at February 28.

She said a total of R82 623 995.88 was disputed accounts due to incorrect billing, R7 234 555.25 was paid but not allocated by municipalities, R76 240 634.68 was for invoices requested but not submitted by municipalities and R60 694 542.79 was for invoices verified and ready for payment.

“The department can confirm that from the age analysis submitted by municipalities, R61m is outstanding as at 28th February 2022.”

De Lille, however, said the department has made payments across all 257 municipalities’ municipal services to the value of R2.6bn from April 2021 to February 2022.

“The amount paid on municipal services accounts during the month of February 2022 amounts to R262m across all municipalities,” De Lille said.

She also said the payment was a clear demonstration and continuous endeavours by her department to ensure that all valid invoices from municipalities are settled timeously.

Cape Times

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