NELSON Mandela Bay Municipality will write off about R500,000 in unpaid rates and services bills as it grapples with poverty‚ unemployment and a sluggish local economy.
This big write-off covers just three months – May‚ June and July – and will benefit the poorest people who cannot afford electricity‚ water‚ sanitation and refuse charges, those who applied for debt relief and nonprofit organisations.
In another setback for the metro‚ about R81m spent on building and rectifying houses may have to be written off after Bhisho refused to pay as the municipality did not provide documents needed to support the claims.
A large chunk of the R470-million debt write-off – about R413-million – arises from the metro’s new policy on poverty with effect at the beginning of July.
It is a lump-sum write-off for financial 2016-17, which the municipality believes residents would not have been able to pay anyway.
The new policy saw 23 173 names added to the list of the most destitute – people whose homes are worth R100 000 or less and so qualify automatically for the metro’s assistance to the poor programme.
The 111,000 residents on the programme list do not pay property rates or for refuse removal. They get eight kilolitres of water‚ 11 kilolitres of sanitation services and 75kW/h of electricity free a month.
Last year‚ the municipality wrote off almost R600-million in debt‚ reports The Herald.