/ 20 September 2011

State’s debt to municipalities estimated at R64-billion

A high level government committee has been formed to help municipalities recover the debt that national government owes them; the outstanding debt may amount to as much as R64-billion, says Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane.

Speaking at a parliamentary press briefing on Tuesday, Chabane said: “Work on the issue is going on. The issue is the verification of the bills that is being sent to national departments. As soon as they are verified they are settled. It is a large volume of work that needs to be done as some of them [the bills] are quite old,” he said.

Seven provinces have submitted status reports on provincial debt owed to municipalities and Chabane said that the directors general of the departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Public Works and his Department of Monitoring and Evaluation were developing a project plan to address the challenges related to the monies owed to municipalities.

According to documentation released at the briefing the number of municipalities overspending their operational expenditure had been reduced. Forty-nine municipalities (17% of the total) had shown operational expenditure equal to or greater than 75% of the budgets and another 16 showed operational expenditure of above 100%.

By March, 229 municipalities showed operation expenditure at below 75% of their adjusted budgets.

The documentation said that interventions included monitoring by national treasury on whether municipalities would be under-spending or overspending in their budgets. — I-Net Bridge