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Councils drowning in water debt

Apr 14 2011 17:27 Sapa

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Cape Town - Municipalities owe South Africa's water boards, which supply them with bulk water, more than R1.7bn and the debt is growing monthly, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa confirmed on Thursday.

"(This) municipal debt is in fact growing," she told a media briefing at Parliament, ahead of debate on her department's Budget vote.

It was happening in areas where there were many indigent people.

The department was working with the country's 13 water boards to "determine mechanisms" to collect the money.

Molewa confirmed the total debt at the beginning of the year was R1.7bn an amount almost equal to 20% of her department's current (2011/12) national budget.

She told journalists the long-term solution to the problem was job creation in areas where people could currently not afford to pay for water.

"There has been an increase (in the debt over the past two years), but this is obviously linked to the financial crisis that we saw last year, and it's understandable that as a country we're going through such a problem.

"We are doing all in our power to improve on this (debt) collection."

Molewa said while the total debt was growing, two of the boards, Umgeni Water and Bloem Water, had managed great improvements in their situation.

edna molewa  |  councils  |  municipalities  |  water

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