Municipalities, provinces called to pay contractors’ invoices

Pretoria - Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu has ordered provinces and municipalities to settle the undisputed invoices for work done by contractors within seven days.

Minister Sisulu and provincial MECs of Human Settlements met with more than 500 contractors and developers on Thursday to discuss how to immediately resolve and pay all due and payable invoices that are outstanding for 30 days, as required by law and a Cabinet decision.

The urgent meeting was called following a national analysis of all unpaid projects and invoices as reflected in the payment systems.

More than R1 billion has not been paid to contractors by the provinces in respect of invoices submitted by contractors for payment.

“As government we cannot sit with millions worth of work done by mainly black small contractors in the housing sector and not paid for. I want those undisputed invoices to be settled with seven days by provinces and municipalities,” said Minister Sisulu.

She further told the Human Settlements Consultative Conference that she will be meeting the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, to request relevant measures in order to ensure that the national department is able to facilitate payment of backlogs, due and payable to contractors within seven days.

“The legislation stipulates that anybody or company that does business with government should be paid within 30 days, “she said.

The Minister also indicated that her department will after the State of the Nation Address on 11 February establish an Ombudsman Office to deal with issues of conflicts between the contractors, provinces and municipalities.

“With the Ombuds Office, we are setting up a structure that will mediate, work with all stakeholders to resolve disputes and cut through red tape for the best interests of the human settlements sector as a whole,” the Minister explained.

She added that contractors are an integral part of human settlements delivery and “we are committed to solving the payment challenges faced by the sector in order to sustain healthy business environment”.

“Contractors help us to restore the dignity our people and we have to provide an environment that assist them to perform at their best. I want to build a two-way communication channel with you, build quality BNG houses, employ Youth Brigades, support small contractors and military veterans.

“On my part I will ensure all your challenges are resolved including payment being made on time and unblocking all red tape,” the Minister told contractors.

Minister Sisulu and MECs listened to complaints and suggestions on how systems can be improved and how non-payments are leading to retrenchments and the collapse of small companies and promised to give feedback on all issues raised within 90 days.