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Monday Sep 03, 2012

Tshwane finds 'friendlier' ways to collect debt

In yet another bid to collect R4.5 billion owed by residents for services, the Tshwane metro council has formulated a new credit control and debt collection policy, focusing on poor families.

The policy covers the entire metro area, including the Nokeng tsa Taemane (Cullinan/Rayton) and Kungwini (Bronkhorstspruit) local municipalities, which were incorporated into Tshwane after last year's local government elections.

Chief financial officer Andile Dyakala stated in a report submitted to the council that the policy had been through a public participation process and the feedback received "was positive and supportive".

Dyakala added that concerns had been raised by members of the public regarding problems with meter readings and their impact on municipal accounts.

He said the metro council was investigating the issue of automated meter reading.

He explained that in cases where amounts on several accounts were high, processes were in place to explain the charges to residents and, where necessary, for the accounts to be investigated and corrected.

"In all such cases, debtors' records on the accounts system are marked to prevent credit control and collection action from being taken on the queried account," Dyakala said.

"The possibility of compiling a policy document on meter reading, billing and invoicing may be investigated."

Under the policy, the municipality may consider incentives for the prompt payment of accounts by debit order and residents would be encouraged to make arrangements to pay off their arrears.

However, any breaches of repayment contracts would lead to a renewed disconnection of services and legal proceedings would be initiated to collect the arrears.

The metro would take tough action against people undertaking or allowing illegal electricity or water connections, who would be prosecuted and could be found guilty of committing an offence.

The municipality would immediately disconnect any illegal connection and remove any wires, pipes or other equipment installed illegally.

ANC councillor Sandy Lebese said the policy had undergone a public participation process "and the revised version is reflective of the voices on the ground".

According to Lebese, the policy boasts a number of accomplishments, with the distinctive aim of addressing the needs of the poor.

Lebese said the policy was more flexible with regards to entering into arrear payment arrangements. Invoices were more user-friendly, with detailed descriptions added to make the bill easier to understand.

"While striving [to provide] good service to our communities, the municipality needs to function as a business," Lebese said.

"The revised policy seeks to do just that - generate revenue for the municipality so that it can afford residents a better service."

With more revenue at its disposal, the municipality would be more economically viable.

Pretoria News


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