Joburg’s most cash-strapped residents can look forward to some relief soon, when a plan aimed at helping them and reducing the size of the city’s debtors book is introduced, says Alistair Anderson.
In his article, Lightening Joburg residents’ debt burden (Financial Mail), Anderson interviews Tracy Ledger on the subject of municipal debt.
‘The City of Joburg will this month embark on road shows to educate residents about its new debt write-off plan. The Municipal Debt Rehabilitation Programme, which will be launched in September, is intended to place defaulting residential ratepayers back in good standing by clearing their debts to the metro.
It’s a localised attempt to manage a broader problem. The Gauteng debtors book is high, at about R62bn, says Tracy Ledger, of the Public Affairs Research Institute at Wits University. In June, Joburg’s consumer debt contributed R24.5bn to that total, with residential debt accounting for about R9.4bn.
It’s a hefty burden to carry in a moribund economy — one not likely to lift any time soon. As Ledger notes, paying for municipal services that are often of a poor standard is unlikely to top consumer priorities in the face of more pressing concerns. “When it comes down to feeding your children or paying the municipality, there’s only one choice.”‘