Cape Town unveils 'pro-poor' budget

The City of Cape Town unveiled details of its 2004/05 budget on Wednesday, hailed by some as a complete paradigm shift.

The 12,8-billion budget is a six percent increase on last year’s budget of R10,6-billion.

“The breakthrough budget… is [one that is] balanced, that is sound and based on the principles of sustainability and investment in our medium-and long-term future,” said city Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo at a media briefing.

Mfeketo said the budget reflected the city’s financial turnaround, with it also being aligned to an Integrated Development Programme (IDP) containing the city’s seven key strategies for responding to the socio-economic needs of its citizens.

The IDP’s strategies include shifting urban growth to the urban core, improving existing settlements, creating sustainable jobs, building strong communities and improving access and mobility.

“A large portion of the spending in both capital [R1,53-billion] and operating [R11,32-billion] budgets is focused on skills development and job creation. We are prioritising a public works model of delivery… and will be shifting our procurement policies to support the key issue of job creation,” said Mfeketo.

So, for example, this year capital spending of R565-million was allocated to programmes focusing on urban renewal and upgrading of informal settlements.

The bulk of this money, R234-million, will be invested in areas with new subsidised housing—on roads, infrastructure and clinics, among other things—with other allocations to be used for acquiring land, providing electricity and basic sanitation.

In its job creation strategy, the city set aside R29-million for labour-intensive roads projects, and R11-million for providing public spaces for business hives and trading.

In an attempt at building strong communities, the city set aside R22-million for safety and security, including lighting across the city, CCTV cameras for Sea Point and along the N1 and N2, and R7,6-million for a fire station in Hout Bay.

“HIV/Aids and TB is a major challenge and we have R660 000 for upgrading treatment rooms at clinics. But our commitment to city health is better reflected by the amount of R145-million for HIV/Aids and TB on the operating budget,” said Mfeketo.

Flagship projects in the improved access and mobility strategy, include R28-million for bicycle and pedestrian projects, R30-million for the Klipfontein Corridor project, as part of a R203-million tranche for better public transport system and spatial planning.

Turning to the city’s income, Mfeketo said the city kept increases to five percent of the basket of services making up the total municipal bill, in line with national policy and inflation targeting.

“Just like last year, [we are] not apologetic about that.
This budget is a pro-poor budget and seeks to narrow the gap created by the history of the country,” she said.

Capetonians can expect property rates to go up by five percent, electricity by an average of 3,5% and water by 7,5%, five percent of which goes towards the Berg River Water project.

Solid waste rates and tariffs increase by an average of five percent, as do sanitation rates and tariffs.

The city will, however, introduce a cap of R250 for residential properties and places of worship, following public feedback about the effect of the sanitation rate on high value properties. - Sapa

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