Ekurhuleni keeps tariffs unchanged to give residents financial relief

The City of Ekurhuleni has announced it won't raise prices of services within its control due to the economic carnage caused by Covid-19.
The City of Ekurhuleni has announced it won't raise prices of services within its control due to the economic carnage caused by Covid-19.
Image: MARIANNE SCHWANKHART

Residents in the City of Ekurhuleni will be relieved to hear that the council will not increase municipal tariffs within its control in the coming financial year in response to financial strain caused by Covid-19.

Ekurhuleni chose to keep tariffs within its control unchanged in the 2020/2021 financial year to help ratepayers cope with the financial strain caused by Covid-19. These include assessment rates, sundry tariffs, refuse removal, burial and cemetery and municipal bus services.

Other services such as water and electricity may increase as they are regulated beyond local government.

This package will come at a cost of R956m to the city.

This was announced by Ekurhuleni MMC for finance and economic development Nkosindiphile Xhakaza when he delivered his budget for 2020/2021 in Germiston on Thursday.

Xhakaza said the decline in the economy and the financial strain that residents faced had an impact on the city’s budget projections.

He said the city was forced to adjust the budget downwards from an approved medium term revenue and expenditure framework capex (capital expenditure) of R7.4bn in the current financial year to R4.9bn, a move that will have a massive impact on infrastructure delivery.

“Despite our stretched finances, as a caring and responsive government, we have heeded the call. After carefully considering the dynamics and the resources at our disposal, we are proposing no increase of municipal tariffs that are within the control of the City,” Xhakaza said.

In the budget, the social package is set to increase by R300m from R3.8bn to R4.1bn this financial year.

This is in addition to the R956m relief that comes with the new tariff structure.

“In the quest to bring dignity to our people and provide a better life for all, we will continue with the social package. It must be made clear that we do that because we understand that our people deserve a compassionate government now more than ever,” said Xhakaza.

For indigent households the relief will include:

  • A 100% rebate on assessment rates;
  • Free refuse removal;
  • The first 100 kilowatt-hour of electricity per month is free. This is more than the provision made by national government policy and the City will bear the costs of the difference;
  • The first 9kl of water and sewer per month is free;
  • Special rates on emergency services such as ambulance and fire-fighting; and
  • Free indigent burial.

Ekurhuleni will continue to provide the first 6 kilolitres of water for free to all households with a property value of up to R750,000.

On electricity, 100 kilowatt-hour of electricity will be given to every household meeting the requirements of a consumption of 600 kilowatt-hour and below – which is the inclining block tariff.

Furthermore, to reduce the impact of the lockdown on ratepayers, interest on current arrears debt accrued from April 1 2020 are suspended for a period of six months; with payment extensions and debt payment arrangements.

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