MBABANE – Hiking rates at almost double the inflation has failed to generate a quick buck for the Mbabane Municipality as ratepayers paid what is due to avoid losing their valuable properties for arrear rates.
A total of 17 properties belonging to individuals, companies and a church ministry did not go under the hammer to recover arrear rates valued at E198 490. 21 after ratepayers paid what was due to the municipality.
The total amount of money that ought to be generated from the cancelled auction, based on the reserve prices of the properties, was a whopping E11 337 000.
The difference between the total amount of money owed and monetary sum that would have been generated from the auction was E11 138 509.79.
Independent calculations conducted by the Business Desk reflected that the total sum that would have been raked in from the auction was actually 55 times higher than the owed amount. It should, however, be mentioned that upon finalisation of the auction and payment of all costs, including the debt, the balance gets remitted to the property owner.
Auctioneer Christopher Ncongwane informed bidders who came in drips and drabs at the Mbabane Magistrates Court on Friday that the auction had been cancelled because ratepayers had made payments while some made undertakings to pay off.
The attachment and cancelled auction of property for rates defaults came in the wake of reports to the effect that the municipality had increased rates at a percentage far higher than inflation.
The capital city’s ratepayers were livid following the Municipal Council of Mbabane’s rates increase of 10 per cent on average. In some of the worst case scenarios, in what had been termed an ‘unreasonable rates increase’, some ratepayers had seen their rates increase by up to 50 per cent.
In defence, the municipality claimed overall rates increases had been around the inflation level.
The municipality has, however, acknowledged that some property owners experienced higher percentage increases for the varying reasons.
Attention was particularly drawn to the notion that the decision on rates had been taken as part of the budget process and increases above inflation ought to help fund infrastructure projects.
An immediate example that was brought forth was rehabilitation of Mantsholo Road for which council had to take a loan of E20 million which would be repaid over many years.
Times Of Swaziland