Tshwane mayor vows to hunt down debtors to rescue city finances
There is no other way to turn a R23.3bn debtors’ book into cash, says Cilliers Brink
Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink has announced a bold financial rescue mission based mainly on increasing revenue and cutting spending to improve the ailing city’s financial health.
“There is simply no other way to unlock the needed resources and drive performance. What we have to our advantage is a R23.3bn debtors’ book that we aim to turn into cash,” he said.
“If a quarter of this debtor’s book is collectable, it is collectable in the next six months. If we succeed, we improve our cash flow, our Eskom account as well as our credibility and creditworthiness.”
Brink said this strategy would give his government time to fix tariff problems and achieve better value for money in supply chain management.
However, should his administration not succeed, they will have to make fundamental changes in the way they deliver services by the end of June 2024 in time for the new budget.
“Our costs are, in turn, affected by factors like the productivity and compensation of our employees and the value we receive from tenders. Of the total consumers of the city’s services, too few are being metered due to defective meters and illegal connections.”
He said billing of consumers for city services had to be improved. “Of those whose consumption is being metered, too few receive accurate bills or have their disputes resolved in time,” he said.
Of the total consumers being billed, too few actually paid their bills, because Tshwane’s credit control and debt collection system was “ineffective”.
The city hopes to save on bulk purchases and expenses, particularly Rooiwal Power Station.
The city also aims to reduce interest accrued on outstanding Eskom debt.
Brink said a new Tshwane metro police department unit was being established to focus on illegal connections.
He also said the city will apply to the Treasury for debt relief.
Other interventions include reducing costs, getting better value for money for residents who pay rates, tariffs and charges and management changes in the supply chain management division.
Tender awards in the city will be granted based on a market assessment. Systems and controls in acquisition and stock management will be tightened up.
Brink also spoke of a lifestyle audit on city officials.
It will update the property valuation roll in 2025 and roll out smart prepaid metering.
“On billing, the city is allocating additional resources to ensure that our data is correct and that billing disputes are dealt with effectively.
“We will also make sure that everyone gets a bill, if not online, then on their phones. We can no longer count on the post office, nor require residents to visit municipal offices once a month. We must use technology.
“There are three fundamental changes we have made in the past few months. We finally have a permanent CFO. We have new management in two critical divisions, namely supply chain and revenue. And we have the strike behind us and a newfound understanding in the city of the efforts that will be required to secure the future of the city,” Brink said.
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