MoneyThe Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is urging municipalities and water boards around the country to pay their debts and review their tariffs as constant interventions to keep the taps on are negatively affecting the budget.  

During Wednesday’s briefing to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA, the Department said that municipalities and water boards owe the DWS more than R7 billion. The department appeared before SCOA to account for its Fourth Quarter Expenditure Patterns for the previous financial year.

Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete explained to the committee that most of the debt was from hiring service providers for emergency interventions where municipalities were unable to deliver as a result of the drought.

Minister Tshwete said that the department could not ignore the water challenges being experienced by municipalities and unlike other service providers the DWS could not simply turn off taps as there is no substitute for water.

Financial compliance a must

The Acting Director-General, Squire Mahlangu, reiterated that the department was acutely aware of the need for financial compliance and that it was currently working on recovering money from clients who owed the department.

The committee urged the department to apply for additional funding from the National Treasury so that it can fulfill its mandate.

“The SCOA supports the department’s efforts to strengthen its internal financial controls and operational efficiencies, as well as to enable it to negotiate additional funding from the fiscus to deal with budget pressures related to infrastructure projects,” the department said.

The SCOA also encouraged the department to put measures in place to combat fiscal ill-discipline.

In the meanwhile the department said it is encouraging communities to pay water rates and report water leakages and spillages in their areas.

“By paying services this will assist in the improvement of service delivery and the maintenance of infrastructure.”

Breakdown by province

According to the department municipalities owe an estimate R3.8 billion and water boards are in arrears to the tune of R3.2 billion. Below is a breakdown of the estimated amounts owed to the Department of water and sanitations from each of the provinces.

  • Western Cape – R23 million
  • Mpumalanga – R19 million
  • Eastern Cape – R18 million
  • Limpopo – R14 million
  • Free State – R8 million
  • North West – R6 million
  • KwaZulu Natal – R4 million
  • Gauteng – R3 million
  • Northern Cape – R2 million