The virtual African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa session on municipal revenue management took place on 15 May 2020.
The session explored revenue collection capabilities, as well as efficient and equitable use of available cash resources in the post COVID-19 landscape.
Chairman: Peet Du Plessis, President at CIGFARO
Dirk Brand, Extraordinary Senior Lecturer at School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University
Miyelani Holeni, Group Chief Advisor at Ntiyiso Consulting
Roland Hunter, Director/Specialist at Hunter van Ryneveld (Pty) Ltd
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The impact of COVID-19
In order to achieve greater financial sustainability within the local government context, the following best practices and recommendations were highlighted during the session:
- Ensure a collective approach between municipalities, community and businesses to find solutions. For example, municipalities allowing for the donation of prepaid power vouchers to support the poor.
- Move from manual processes to an increased use of technology. Regulations must encourage automation, and municipalities must invest in business automation, to boost payments, online services and increase efficiency.
- As there will be no bailout to ease the fiscal strain, top management must call all strategic thinkers together to problem-solve, encouraging creativity and innovation.
Municipalities faced a number of challenges before the global pandemic. However, COVID-19 has highlighted the need for greater resilience and agility (financial, people and governance) within local government. In order to mitigate these challenges, a comprehensive economic recovery strategy is needed, as well as a number of other innovative and, in some cases, controversial ideas to ensure the financial longevity of local government entities.
Some of these ideas include:
- No salary increases for the next year and reprioritisation of budgets
- Maximise budget and fuel savings during shutdown
- Introducing the basic charge and avoiding rates relief
- Exploring additional revenue sources such as internet connectivity and own generation
- Digitalisation must be fast-tracked
- Employing analytics to monitor non-payers, grudge payers, and infrequent payers and combat the culture of non-payment