Businesses in Cape Town have welcomed drastic cuts in proposed water price hikes.
But Janine Myburgh‚ president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry‚ said on Tuesday the initial proposed 55% increase was a “shocking indictment” of City of Cape Town officials and councillors.
“They are simply too focused on extracting revenue from the public rather than reducing their own costs as the private sector has to do in order to survive‚” she said.
Acting mayor Ian Neilson announced on Monday that the proposed increases had been reduced after “careful and intense consideration of a record 40‚000 comments” on the council’s draft budget.
The proposed increase for people using less than 6‚000 litres of water a month had been reduced from 55.16% to 10.1%‚ he said‚ and for the amount water consumed between 6‚000 and 10‚500 litres a month the proposed increase of 6.26% had been cut to 0%.
The stiffest proposed increase — for consumption of more than 35‚000 litres a month — is now 25%.
Proposed sanitation increases have also been cut‚ and the property rates rise to be levied from July 1 has been reduced from 7.2% to 6.5%.
Neilson said R5-billion had been shaved off the cost of the council’s five-year programme to secure new water supplies‚ and other items in the budget had been subjected to a fine-tooth comb.
Said Myburgh: “What we cannot understand is how the city could ever have contemplated imposing these tariff increases on a population that has done an incredible job in saving water and investing in water-saving equipment‚ greywater systems and rainwater tanks to ensure future savings.
“I think this shows that both officials and councillors are out of touch with the paying public.”
She said she had no idea how the initial proposals got through the budgeting process. “We can only speculate that they did not try hard enough‚ and that is a shocking indictment of both officials and councillors.”