MYSTERY surrounds a Buffalo City Metro incentive scheme introduced with much fanfare four years ago.

In December 2008 the Daily Dispatch reported the municipality had approved a new three-year incentive scheme for loyal ratepayers in a bid to boost revenue collection.

At the time, BCM promised that from January 2009, wards which paid the most rates every quarter would be rewarded with a special project in their precinct to the value of R100 000.

Two proposals had been tabled at a council meeting – the second which could have cost the municipality R60million a year and would have seen customers receiving discounts for prompt payments.

The Democratic Alliance’s councillor for Ward 29 at the time, John Cupido, said the municipality needed to explore other ways of encouraging payment

“The best way is to relook the indigent packages . . . winning prizes won’t encourage people but discounts will,” he had said.

The incentive scheme option was favoured because it had job-creation potential.

But there has been little word on the scheme since, and there is no certainty whether or not anyone has actually benefited from it in the four years since being launched.

A member of the finance standing committee, Robbie Muzzell, said to the best of his knowledge the scheme had taken off and the incentives were put in place, but he did not have details of what became of the programme.

Yesterday, Cupido, now an MPL, said he did not know what had become of the scheme.

“I don’t remember hearing anything afterwards. I don’t know if the incentive actually worked,” he said.

Ward 6 councillor, Pan African Congress’s Jerome Mdyolo, said there had not been any word on the scheme since 2008.

“It was a way to encourage ratepayers to pay, but there hasn’t been any awareness in the community among our ratepayers,” he said.

“To me that good initiative is (as) good as dead now,” said Mdyolo.

That was not the first time the municipality had tried to introduce an incentive policy for ratepayers.

In 2003, council had approved the Pay ’n Win competition, which was only implemented three years later.

The competition saw four lucky ratepayers winning a prize of R2 500 each in a lucky draw.

Research showed, however, that because customers had not been aware of the competition it had not had an impact on the timely rates collection.

The study recommended penalties and late-payment fees would be stronger motivators.

BCM spokesman Keith Ngesi had not responded to questions at the time of going to press. — vuyiswav@