Home News NC depts owe municipalities R468m

NC depts owe municipalities R468m

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The MEC for Roads and Public Works, Mxolisi Sokatsha, said in his budget speech yesterday that the projected spending for these services during the 2018/19 financial year was R145 million while the budget allocation was only R60 million.

MEC for Roads and Public Works, Mxolisi Sokatsha. Picture: Supplied

GOVERNMENT departments in the Northern Cape owe municipalities R468 million in rates and taxes. This is while several municipalities in the Province are experiencing electricity cuts because they owe Eskom money.

The MEC for Roads and Public Works, Mxolisi Sokatsha, said in his budget speech yesterday that the projected spending for these services during the 2018/19 financial year was R145 million while the budget allocation was only
R60 million.

“This clearly reflects the insufficient budget we are provided with to settle rates and taxes,” said Sokatsha.

He stated that rates and taxes remained one of the Province’s biggest challenges as several defaulting municipalities are faced with power cuts by Eskom.

“In some cases, outstanding accounts are as a result of municipalities being non-responsive to the request to provide invoices. In most cases their invoices are highly inflated without credible supportive evidence and this is because of the challenges experienced with their unreliable billing systems. A resolution was reached to request additional funding from National Treasury to supplement the rates and taxes budget and to deal with rates and taxes arrears,” said Sokatsha.

Eskom indicated that power interruptions would be implemented at Emthanjeni and Renosterberg local municipalities as from today as they had failed to honour their payment agreements.

Emthanjeni Municipality owes Eskom R29 million while Renosterberg is R55 million in arrears.

Sokatsha also acknowledged that the construction of the new Kimberley mental health facility was an “albatross” hanging around the department’s neck.

“It has been a colossal challenge for the Province and the country. It should be seen as an end to a problem project and a huge lesson to the Province that never and ever again, will a project take the direction this one took.

He gave the assurance, however, that the mental health hospital had reached practical completion.

“All works have been completed internally and externally and the commissioning of equipment and services is in progress. The Department of Health is currently procuring the necessary movable furniture for the hospital. The maintenance of the facility will be under the Department of Roads and Public Works for the coming three years to ensure that the facility is kept in a good condition at all times.”

Sokatsha stated that the department had engaged with mines in the John Taolo Gaetsewe (JTG) district to contribute towards road rehabilitation and maintenance projects.

“The heavy volumes of traffic experienced in the JTG district that is utilised by heavy vehicles and mining activities has serious safety implications.”

He said that R444 million would be allocated to various road works in the JTG district for resealing and re-gravelling while R300 million would be funded by JTG and the Sishen Iron Ore company community development trust to improve roads.

Sokatsha added that community protests had led to major delays in implementing road infrastructure projects, especially in the JTG district.

“Amongst these challenges are sporadic mushrooming of different groups claiming to be legitimate community representatives and road forums. Protesters also want to forcefully participate in these projects as local contractors although they do not meet requirements. These concerns have resulted in financial losses to the department, where in some instances we have lost graders. Our site camps were set alight by protesters, our regional offices are invaded on a daily basis and the contractors cannot proceed due to intimidation.

“The department’s main challenge remains unpaved roads in the rural areas which provide access to strategic infrastructure projects and other economic activities.”

Total budget: R1.7 billion

Administration: R155 million

Public Works: R149 million

Road infrastructure: R1.3 billion

Community-based programme: R92 million

Rooting out the dust projects: R31.5 million

Poverty relief: R33.1 million

Community development programmes: R4.1 million

Cape Town road/Douglas killer crossing on the N8: R20 million

Construction of roads in Hotazel and Tsineng: R40 million