WHILE ratepayers have not been receiving water and sanitation accounts from Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) since it took over the service in 2014, the council this week approved charging interest on outstanding accounts as from July 1.
The proposal was approved during an ordinary council meeting on Tuesday.
CHDM executive mayor Kholiswa Vimbayo said the district authority had not been charging interest on outstanding accounts since 2014.
She outlined some of the reasons as the municipality doing data cleansing and accounts to be credited before such interest could be charged.
“The migration of data from the eight [now six] local municipalities and consolidating it into one database took longer than anticipated and resulted in billing and printing of accounts being delayed by several months.”
Failure to charge interest on arrears had been queried by the auditor- general with the matter finding its way into the 2014-15 and 2015-16 audit reports.
“The challenges relating to data integrity led to a decision to embark on a data cleansing process that would ensure that accounts billed and sent to customers are correct.”
Face-to-face consultations on accounts had been conducted in almost all towns in the district.
Council had introduced a debt incentive that offered the write-off of a portion of the debt on payment of a predetermined percentage of that debt.
“In view of the aforementioned interventions, management is of the view that interest should be levied on accounts that are in arrears as per the requirements of both the MFMA and the credit control and debt collection policy of the municipality to address the audit findings of the two previous years.”
Council approved implementation of the charging of interest from July 1, with interest from July 2014 to June 2017 to be treated as revenue forgone and to undertake public awareness campaigns to inform communities of the decision.