‘No Covid-19 payment holiday for rates and taxes'
Cape Town - Municipalities have been urged to continue demanding rates and taxes from ratepayers and are precluded from offering a payment-holiday period during the lockdown, says the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Cogta defended its refusal to allow municipalities to grant payment holidays to residents facing financial difficulties during the pandemic. This as some municipalities such as the Stellenbosch Local Municipality in the Western Cape have offered a payment holiday to ratepayers.
Briefing a parliamentary committee on Friday, Cogta executive manager for municipal governance Kevin Naidoo also said municipalities were encouraged to continue with revenue collection but within confines of all Covid-19 prescripts.
"The impact of the pandemic and lockdown will put the finances of many businesses and households at risk and reduce ability to pay municipal bills."
Naidoo also said some municipalities have offered payment holidays or reduced efforts to collect monies owed.
"These practices are not endorsed by the national government. It will be difficult to collect revenue in the future," Naidoo said.
"Municipalities are expected to do their best to collect revenue while allowing for relief for the indigent and those with temporary payment problems in line with their existing credit control and indigent policy," he said.
Chief director for municipal finance Mbulelo Sigaba said the department has asked to look at the merit of each consumer.
Sigaba also said they were targeting the R20 billion allocated to municipalities to assist those who can't afford to pay.
"We made provision to increase the Equitable Share to cater for people no longer earning an income," he said.
Sigaba also said they did not support the move by the Stellenbosch Municipality as it would create the impression "people are not required to pay for services".
Those who can afford to pay should come forward, he said.
Municipalities were expected to collect revenue when they re-open on Monday.
"Municipalities have agreements with agents such as retail shops for additional collection. It's not like there was lockdown in payments," Sigaba added.