The total amount owed to municipalities by consumers in the Eastern Cape as at the end of March 2009, was R1, 2 billion (R1, 201, 501, 000. 00).
This is a 140% increase over the figures as at 30 June 2008, which was R500 million (R500, 911, 149. 00).
It should be noted that in the period of nine months, municipal arrears by consumers increased by over R700 million. This is according to a reply by Local Government MEC Sicelo Gqobana, to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance.
This figure indicates that municipalities are going to face major cash crunches in the current financial year if this trend continues.
I believe the reason for this huge increase has been the current economic climate and astronomical electricity and rates price hikes.
Municipalities need to ensure that they donâ€™t waste a single sent on non-core activities and that service delivery does not get pushed aside.
There is no room for concerts, lavish banquets and endless workshops in exotic venues.
The reply from the Department of Local Government is attached.
For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 082 7753444