Vat isn't 13% - Emalahleni needs to get billing right to avoid blackouts

23 October 2017 - 10:52 By Glynis Smith
Image: iStock

Emalahleni (Witbank) is once more on the point of having it’s electricity cut off by Eskom. This is now scheduled for November.

The municipality has not yet sent out our August electricity bills. I work for a business in Emalahleni which regularly uses upwards of R300,000 per month in electricity. We are paying roughly the amount we would expect to be billed. We cannot claim VAT input because we need a vat invoice in order to do so. How many users are not paying at all until the bill is received?

The municipality changed its computer system in July.

The bill which we received for July included VAT at 13%, did not show our deposit, and had an amount brought forward which did not bear any resemblance to anything on the June account. It also did not have our previous month’s payment credited.

It seems to be a strange idea to change the billing system when the municipality is battling for revenue – particularly for one which appears to be unusually problematic.

Apparently another major problem in meeting the Eskom deadline is the number of illegal connections. The municipality has some areas where less than 60% of the electricity consumed is paid for.

This is obviously not maintainable.

The people in Emalahleni have to live with extensive pollution caused, to some extent, by Eskom’s power plants in the area. Is there not a case for a reduction in price to compensate for this?

Maybe a basic amount of electricity should be free of charge. Just looking at it pragmatically it doesn’t appear to be possible to eliminate illegal connections. A culture of payment needs to be initiated. This would be easier if the payment was reduced to a more affordable level.

Of course getting the billing right would also help.