Data cleansing initiative could boost service delivery if effectively implemented

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Municipal debt collection is a huge challenge for Mpumalanga municipalities, and the DA welcomes the R3 million set aside to assist several municipalities improve their billing systems.

With inadequate debt collection contributing to inefficient financial management – which in turn leads to substandard audit outcomes – the provincial treasury made this money available for the implementation of a data cleansing initiative for the 2013/14 financial year.

The money was allotted to six local municipalities, namely Msukaligwa, Dipaleseng, Thaba Chweu, Bushbuckridge, Thembisile Hani and Dr JS Moroka, which were chosen by the Department of Finance for their inadequacy in collecting money owed by consumers. Poor revenue collection systems compromise good financial management which in turn affects service delivery.

The initiative will take four months to implement and will begin with a gap analysis (comparison of actual performance with potential performance) in each municipality. Thereafter the service provider who is awarded the project tender will have to execute a number of tasks including reconcile data on the Valuation Roll and the Financial Management System, detect duplicate accounts, analyse inactive accounts and conduct meter audits.

The DA believes that, if implemented correctly, this project could put municipalities on the right track towards revenue collection, thus improving their financial viability and sustainability. This, coupled with effective financial management, can improve service delivery and avoid the costly nature of putting councils under administration.

The initiative will also benefit consumers as by all rights it should protect them from being billed incorrectly.

To ensure this promising project lives up to its full potential, the DA will monitor its implementation and management closely, and if successful, recommend it be rolled out to other municipalities.