MORE RELIEF: City of Joburg increases 50% debt-rehabilitation property value cap
Eyewitness News has reported that the City of Joburg has approved a debt-rehabilitation programme that includes additional relief measures for ratepayers amidst the ongoing COVID -19 pandemic.
The new programme policy includes an increase in the qualifying property value from R600,000 to R1.5 million.
This follows calls from residents for the city to review the terms and conditions of the initial relief programme, which was first launched in 2019.
It said a programme aimed at affording amnesty to property owners whose municipal accounts were in arrears was set to come into effect from next month.
Member of the mayoral committee Jolidee Motongo said the improved relief programme would see qualifying ratepayers receive immediate relief through a 50% debt write-off.
When the first phase of the debt-rehabilitation programme was introduced, the property value was capped at R600,00 and not many of our residents or property owners took on the programme because when you look at your own statement, it tell you what is your property value.Jolidee Matongo, Finance MMC - City of Johannesburg
The response to the programme was not so good and throughout public participation processes of the city, people raised the issue to say increase the property value cap, which is what we have done in the second phase of the programme.Jolidee Matongo, Finance MMC - City of Johannesburg
We're looking at the current debt that is owed to the city, which is more than R30-billion. With this programme if all the 343,000 property owners below the threshold of R1,5-million take up the programme and they qualify in terms of the criteria, we're going to be writing off about R11-billion in the city's debtors' book.Jolidee Matongo, Finance MMC - City of Johannesburg
It is not about us getting money into the city in the main but we're looking at the debt that is owed to the city. We write off about R11-billion of the R30-billion-plus off the debtors' book. But in the immediate, we're hoping that the people will come forward because people get their bills and say: 'I owe the city R60,000, there is no way that I am paying, I might as well forget.'Jolidee Matongo, Finance MMC - City of Johannesburg
They might as do anything they like. But if you say to them if you qualify into the programme immediately we write off 50% of the debt, pay us what is due and payable monthly coming off your municipal bill, we're hoping that more and more people, will be inclined to come forward and pay their municipal bills because more and more are saying the bill is too much I just can't afford.Jolidee Matongo, Finance MMC - City of Johannesburg
Therefore the programme is also meant to give relief to the residents but also to encourage them to come into programme so that they pay, and the city can be liquid by having cash into the bank so that we are able to deliver the services.Jolidee Matongo, Finance MMC - City of Johannesburg
What about the city's capacity to enforce debt collection?
Capacity is there. We've got a panel of attorneys that we've assigned to collect the debt on our behalf, but we also have our regional customer centres and outbound call centres that call customers to remind them of the debt that they owe. We spend no less than R50-million a year paying attorney companies that help us to collect the debt.Jolidee Matongo, Finance MMC - City of Johannesburg
Listen below for the full interview...