Rates Amendment Bill comments still welcome

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pretoria - The Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has urged the public to have their say on Municipal Property Rates Amendment Bill while they still have the window of opportunity.

The draft Municipal Property Rates Bill was gazetted for comment on 9 June. The last date for comments is 22 July.

"Essentially, the Municipal Property Rates Act is being amended to make property rating simpler, more transparent, more uniform and easier to implement," explained Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Yunus Carrim.

He also clarified that people who owned more than one residential property will not have to pay commercial rates on their additional residential properties.

"The intention is to ensure that guest houses, bed and breakfast establishments, small hotels and the like pay commercial rates. If necessary, we will amend the draft to make this clearer before submitting the Bill to parliament," Carrim said.

The Ministry said the only policy shifts in the Bill were:

* Properties used for trading in and hunting of game would be regarded as agricultural property and subject to rates in the interests of equity and fairness.

* The need for greater uniformity across municipalities in rating houses owned by recipients of old-age pensions and disability grants.

* Aspects of public service infrastructure would be excluded from property rates because of their contribution to the country's developmental needs.

The draft Bill is in response to complaints from the public and some municipalities over the years about the lack of clarity of aspects of the original Act and difficulties in implementing it, the Ministry said.

There was widespread consultation on the draft that has been gazetted, it added.

Public hearings took place in all the provinces in April last year and were attended by ratepayers' organisations, agricultural unions, business chambers, state owned enterprises, community organisations, traditional leaders, municipalities, and individual ratepayers.