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R470m bill write-off to benefit Nelson Mandela Bay’s poor

Half a billion rand in unpaid rates and services bills will be written off by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality‚ as it grapples with the effects of poverty‚ unemployment and a sluggish economy.

The massive write-off covers a period of just three months – May‚ June and July – and will benefit the poorest of the poor‚ who cannot pay the electricity‚ water‚ sanitation and refuse charges‚ as well as those who applied for debt relief and nonprofit organisations.

And in another financial blow to the metro‚ about R81-million spent on building and rectifying houses may also have to be written off after Bhisho refused to pay because the documents needed to support the claims were never provided by the municipality.

A large chunk of the R470-million debt write-off – about R413-million – resulted from the metro’s new policy on the poor which came into effect at the beginning of July.

It is a lump-sum write-off for the 2016-17 financial year‚ which the municipality believes residents would not have been able to pay anyway.

The new policy saw 23 173 new names added to the list of the most destitute – people whose homes are worth R100 000 or less and thus automatically qualify for the metro’s Assistance to the Poor (ATTP) programme.

The total number of residents on the ATTP list is 111 000.

They do not pay property rates or for refuse removal‚ and receive eight kilolitres of water‚ 11 kilolitres of sanitation services and 75kW/h of electricity free a month.

Last year‚ the municipality wrote off almost R600-million in debt‚ reports The Herald 



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