Despite the fact that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has already granted a 2.2% bulk tariff increase for municipalities, Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, requested a last-minute postponement to table these before parliament, on the day of the deadline, on 15 March 2017.
Minister Brown now has until 5 April 2017 to table to the increases and the DA will submit parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of this seemingly unnecessary postponement, which could be potentially disastrous for local municipalities and Eskom.
It is also suspicious that Minister Brown only requested a postponement on the day of the deadline considering that National Treasury had responded to this request for postponement on 2 March 2017.
The DA will therefore also submit questions to get clarity on why the Minister waited almost two weeks before approaching Parliament to ask for a postponement.
Further questions will be submitted to the National Treasury on the affect the extension means for municipal revenues for 2017/18 and whether the condoned delay still allows for implementation in this 2017/18 financial year as opposed to the 2018/19 financial year.
The DA expresses our deepest concern at the following potential problems that this creates:
- Delayed budgeting processes that may leave municipalities open to costly legal challenges (eg Nelson Mandela Bay);
- Delayed budgeting processes at municipal level that could threaten front line services;
- Uncertainty amongst consumers, made up of balk tariff increases in municipalities and businesses, which adds to already substantial economic uncertainty.
The tariff increases must be tabled before municipalities can go ahead with their budgetary processes. It is, therefore, vital that we get to the bottom of this delay to ensure that service delivery is not hampered.
Kevin Mileham MP
DA Shadow Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs