R81bn owed to municipalities

Salga said a small portion of the bill was owed by government departments.

SALGA says municipalities are not properly equipped in collected owed debt. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News

MIDRAND - The South African Local Government Association (Salga) on Tuesday said the amount of debt owed by consumers to municipalities rose from R40 billion three years ago to R81 billion in 2013.

The association revealed the findings at a conference in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

The gathering discussed the implementation of a turnaround strategy for local governments across South Africa.

Salga CEO Xolile George said a portion of the bill was owed by government departments, but the majority was owed by ordinary citizens.

"There is a huge component of this total bill that is owed by citizens and a number of factors complicated their inability to pay."

George said the bill was rising at an alarming rate due to compounded interest and the inability of municipalities to collect outstanding money.

"There are cases were municipalities don't have strong billing systems or reliable data collection mechanisms."

He said the turnaround strategy for local government, which included streamlining the collection of outstanding bills, would be implemented immediately after the conference ends on Wednesday.