By Desie Heita
Beginning July, the City of Windhoek would slap residents with a commercial interest rate on all overdue monthly municipal bills.
The current monthly late fee of N$15 on electricity bills and N$10 on water bills would no longer apply.
The interest rate on overdue payments is going to be linked to the lending prime rate of First National Bank, which currently is at 15,25 percent. The City of Windhoek banks with First National Bank.
Further, Windhoek residents would also start paying for the monthly privilege of being connected to water and electricity, irrespective of whether the water and electricity was used in that month or not.
City of Windhoek said the monthly late fees of N$15 for electricity and N$10 for water are flat rates charged irrespective of the amount owed.
Ndangi Katoma, the Manager for Corporate Communication and Tourism Division, said the current method of levying a late fee on electricity and water reflects a clear disparity in the application of a penalty charge.
“In order to apply a penalty charge on a uniform basis, it has been considered best to levy interest on the arrear amount,” said Katoma.
The City of Windhoek is still to determine the exact figure it will charge defaulters but Katoma said whatever the amount, it will not exceed the rate prescribed in terms of section 12 of the Prescribed Rate Act of 1975 on unpaid debt in respect of such charges, fees and other money.
This does not include the assessment rate of 20 percent per annum, which Katoma said would remain in force.
Paying for the availability of water and electricity is not a new concept, said Katoma.
“It is currently provided for but it is not being implemented effectively in all cases due to shortcomings in the present billing system,” said Katoma.
All these changes are part of the implementation of Windhoek Municipality’s new “enterprise resource planning solution that consists of the e-Venus Financial Management system” which replaces the current Municipal Services System.
Katoma said the reason is to improve operational and system efficiency.
“This will ultimately result in an improved management information system and service delivery to our clients in areas such as billing services,” said Katoma.
He said some of the current procedures are not compatible with the new system that prompted the municipality to make some amendments.
Other introductions are that residents will no longer pay a daily amount on a fixed proportion for connection or disconnections of water and electricity, as well as for refuse, sewerage and waste management upon connection or disconnection.
“Consumers will have to pay a full month’s basic charge irrespective of the number of days in that billing month the service was actually used,” said Katoma.
All new changes are going to be explained further in the municipality bill, which will also receive a face-lift.