Public to Pay for Govt Debt

THE public will have to pay high electricity and refuse collection rates to cover the debt which several government ministries owe the Windhoek municipality.

Although Deon Gerber, the municipality’s strategic executive for finance could not reveal on Monday how much government ministries owe, sources said the figure runs into millions.

Gerber said residents who cannot pay their debt as well as ministries that are in arrears for electricity, water and basic services have contributed to the budget deficit of N$390 million.

The municipality unveiled a N$4,1 billion budget for the 201415 financial year last week, which among other things will also strive to make land available for housing and commercial development.

As one of the recommendations, the municipality has decided to hike tariffs, so that the deficit that has been haunting the municipality, is reduced, a move that has affected all Windhoek residents. Although the tariffs of basic water and communal taps were not increased, excess water consumption charges were adjusted by 10% with effect from the beginning of this month.

The adjustment was based on the increase by NamWater of its bulk water rates by 10% this year, and a further 8,7% next year.

The municipality says its water account is expected to have a positive balance of N$63 million by 2015 if collection is 90% efficient.

In his budget presentation last week, the Windhoek municipality management committee chairperson, Moses Shiikwa, said the municipality has implemented strict cost control and saving measures to reduce this deficit and to broaden the revenue base.

Household and solid waste management rates will therefore also go up by 10% respectively. Service availability and informal settlement refuse removal charges were adjusted by 5%.

Sewerage rates for domestic and non-industrial waste went up by 15%, while rates for semi-purified waste were increased by between 0% and 25% to recover costs within the next four years. This high adjustment was necessitated by an expected deficit that could amount to N$19 million.

Property tax went up by 8% and electricity will cost 9,2% more.

These increases, Shiikwa said, mean that average low income households will now have to pay N$47,99 more, while the average middle income households’ bill will increase by N$113,48, and average high income households are expected to pay N$241,93 more per month.

Last year it was reported that Windhoek residents owe the City N$390 million due to non-payment of their “municipal consumer debt” over a couple of years.

At the time, Windhoek municipality spokesperson Joshua Amukugo was quoted as saying the debt owed to the municipality is hampering service provision.

Source : The Namibian