How eThekwini Municipality plans to help businesses affected by Covid-19
Durban - Ratepayers and business in the eThekwini Municipality who have been impacted financially by the Covid-19 pandemic will be given a rates reprieve by the City which will see businesses such as bed and breakfast establishments and guesthouses have their rates reduced by up to 60%
The reprieve comes following a report tabled at an online executive committee meeting in May that has since been approved.
According to the municipality, each case will be looked at on its own merit with the collection process focusing on customers who have not been financially affected by the Covid-19 lockdown to be encouraged to pay for their services.
Ethekwini Municipality spokesperson, Mandla Nsele said the measures were put in place to assist those who are unable to pay their bills and include a deferment of payment for up to six months for customers who meet the criteria as well as the Indigent Policy which assists vulnerable groups and the poorest of the poor.
Among the relief schemes that have been approved for implementation include a rates rebate for bed and breakfast establishments and guesthouses who will receive a Covid-19 rebate to bring their rates payable to the same level as residential.
According to the City, bed and breakfast establishments rebate has been increased from 50% to 64% and guesthouses from 25% to 64%.
This is application based and the applicants must demonstrate that during this period, their establishments suffered a financial loss of 60% and more.
"We have also instructed our Treasury to enter into arrangements with affected establishments to defer the payment of rates without incurring interest on outstanding rates for a period of up to six months. We are also linking affected businesses with the various national and provincial funds aimed at assisting tourism businesses," Nsele said.
An incentive to write off interest has also been submitted and under this scheme will allow customers who pay 50% of their debt to receive a once-off write-off of their accumulated interest. The balance of the debt is payable to a maximum period of 24 months interest-free and,
All rate renewal applications for senior citizens, disability grantees, child-headed households and medically bordered persons will be renewed automatically.
The report stated the municipality is in a precarious state and cannot continue to operate and provide much-needed services to the communities without implementing credit control measures.
If the collection of arrears does not improve the municipality will be in serious financial trouble by year-end, it noted.
EThekwini mouncillor Mxolisi Kaunda said: “We need to run a municipality that can sustain services. We will do this by collecting revenue in order to provide service delivery in eThekwini. We will not allow eThekwini to collapse.”
JP Prinsloo the DA's whip in the Economic Development Committee in the City said they were pleased City officials have taken on board the proposals made by the DA during the June 15 council sitting.
"The proposal to extend the period for the re-categorisation of B&Bs and guesthouses to residential was rejected by the ruling party during the same council meeting. With rational decisions prevailing, B&B and guesthouses will now be able to access the economic relief for an additional three months. The implementation of this recommendation will be the second proposal implemented by the City that formed part of the Democratic Alliance Economic Recovery and Relief proposals. The DA is hopeful that this will not be the last proposal being implemented and that the ANC will take a more cooperative approach in council to the official opposition's proposals," he said