Councils sluggish in revenue collection
NOT AMUSED: Van der Westhuizen

Councils urged to collect owed revenue by March 2018 -Programmes too dependent on central govt.

In future, the government through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development may have to allocate revenue based on the efforts made by individual councils to collect revenue arrears.

Assistant Local Government and Rural Development Minister Frans van der Westhuizen announced the government’s mulling last Wednesday when addressing the Sowa Town Council (STC) full council session.

“What is painful is that some of the debts are owed by staff in your councils and other government departments in the form of service fees,” the livid Van der Westhuizen told councilors.

According to Van der Westhuizen, the ministry is aware that most of the councils are owed by their customers.

He said the scenario cannot be accepted looking at the ever increasing dependence on central government for financing council programmes.

Annually councils across the country receive grants in order for them to run the affairs of the local government.

Most councils propose their respective budgets to the central government for consideration.

“All districts owed money should develop urgent strategies to collect these government revenue in order for them to provide the much-needed services to the communities they serve,” he said amid murmurs from the August house.

Van der Westhuizen added: “It cannot be correct that councils continue to demand more money through delegations to the Minister (Slumber Tsogwane)’s office when revenue is not collected by the same councils.”

“Prudent financial management is critical and integral to the sustainability of the councils’ delivery systems,” said van der Westhuizen before challenging all local authorities to ensure that they collect all the revenue owed to them by March 2018.

“You will agree with me that today’s economic situation dictates that government as a whole, including the local authorities, should be prudent in financial management and also proactive and creative in engaging their communities,” he said.

Besides developing urgent strategies to collect government revenue owed by ratepayers, Van der Westhuizen said councils must engage communities to assume greater responsibility for financing some activities in their localities.

Without giving the exact amount that the council is owed, STC Mayor George Maphane, said the local authority was equally worried.

Going forward, Maphane said the council needs to work in a state of interdependence.

“With maximum communication, cooperation, synergy creativity, improvement of processes and innovation which will lead to total quality of service, there is no way STC will fail to collect revenue,” he said.

Over the past decade, the government have been underfunding the local authorities due to shrinking revenue from the mining sector.

The mining sector has been the mainstay of the country’s revenue through diamond sells.