Ekurhuleni budget prioritises the poor

Member of Mayoral Committee for Finance and Economic Development, Dr  Nkosindiphile Xhakaza

Member of Mayoral Committee for Finance and Economic Development, Dr Nkosindiphile Xhakaza

Finance MMC Dr Nkosindiphile Xhakaza presented Ekurhuleni’s 2018/19 budget, which further cements its pro-poor focus and shows that the city is on track to meet its 2055 strategic goals.

Tabling the R37.5-billion operating budget and R6.9-billion capital and infrastructure budget at Eden Park Sports Ground on Thursday, Xhakaza said executive mayor Mzwandile Masina presented the State of the City Address two months ago, which shared concrete plans about the future.

“We revealed a clear framework of sustenance and service delivery improvement; transformation of society and the city; and our ambition to be the preferred destination for investment and growth — where the poor and the rich can co-exist in a mutually beneficial environment, where they are empowered to realise their dreams and aspirations.

“Today we have tabled a very progressive budget that can only make our city a better place to live, play and invest. Our people have today, like every year, heard how we are going to spend their money on turning their lives around. After all the budget, as always, is informed by their views, which we acquire through the IDP and budget consultation processes,” Xhakaza said.

This financial year the city of Ekurhuleni (CoE) is raising assessment rates by 6.9% after keeping the increase to 0% in the previous year. The National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) recently announced a bulk electricity increase of 7.32%, but the city will increase electricity by between 5.32 and 8.5%, subject to usage. The CoE is also proposing a 12.96% increase in water, the same increase announced by Rand Water.

Sanitation tariffs will increase by 9%, informed by the cost of sewer purification processes undertaken by Ekurhuleni Water. The refuse removal tariff will increase by 7.5% for all users, due to a similar increase in the cost drivers of the service.

There will, however, be no increase in rates for library and information services; library auditorium; cemetery and crematoria; use of arts, culture and heritage facilities; and the hire of parks and facilities.

“The city will continue to provide services at tariffs that are cost-reflective, but also taking into account the affordability levels for our citizens. A comparative analysis of the tariffs among the metros in the country makes Ekurhuleni among the cheapest city to live in,” Xhakaza said.

The revised indigent support policy increases the threshold for qualification from R3 200 to R5 090. This will increase the number of people who qualify for services. To assist the indigents, the amount exempt from property rates increases to R150 000 from R250 000.

The CoE is also revising its credit control policy to address complaints about charges levied on disconnected services, reconnection fees and attorney fees on accounts handed over for collection. This will review charges upon investigation of each individual case.

The CoE is looking at ways it can assist poor communities to attain “letters of authority” as this can only be done through attorneys and the master of the high court. The fees for such actions are unaffordable to poor communities.

Xhakaza announced that the city would allocate R1.2-billion to Human Settlements, which will cover the acquisition of land and properties, electrification of informal settlements, and development of mega projects.  A further R70-million goes towards the maintenance of hostels and rental stock.

The energy department will receive R576-million to enhance the network infrastructure in Alberton, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, KwaThema and Daveyton. It will also assist to broaden lighting to Katlehong, Etwatwa, KwaThema, Springs, Vosloorus, and Tembisa, among others.

The road network receives R678-million for improvements, with a total of R2-billion in a three-year period. This amount will fund the Construction of the Daveyton CBD/N12 interchange; doubling Barry Marais Road to ease congestion at the entrance of Vosloorus; rehabilitation of Kaalspruit Road; and upgrading roads in the eastern part of the city. These roads include Etwatwa Extension 7, Arusha, Phomolong, and Masizakhe.

Water and sanitation receives R623.7-million for the Pomona Eastern Out Fall Sewer phase 3; repairs, upgrades and extension of water pipelines and construction of new reservoirs as well as towers in places such as Alberton, Katlehong, Thokoza, Tembisa, Etwatwa and Vosloorus; building of a water reservoir and tower at the new Clayville mega project human settlement; and replacement of large water consumer meters and domestic meter replacement.

For more information, visit www.ekurhuleni.gov.za

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