Ekurhuleni commits to pro-poor agenda with progressive budget
Nkosindiphile Xhakaza, the MMC for finance and economic development in Ekurhuleni, delivered the city’s pro-poor budget speech in Eden Park near Polar-Park in Thokoza.
Xhakaza said the budget was delivered in the township in response to community complaints that government events often took place far from the people they served.
He said this was profound because the budget was informed by the views of the residents, which they acquired through the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and budget consultation processes. The city held public IDP and budget consultative meetings from April 11 to 19 with residents and various stakeholders.
Last year, the city of Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina launched the Siyaqhuba programme as part of a drive to ensure that service delivery issues were rapidly responded to and more importantly, the people of the metro were closer to their public representatives.
“In line with our agenda of running a ‘pro-poor’ administration we continue to provide a social package to our people, mainly the most vulnerable and indigent members of society, at a cost of R3.7-billion to the institution,” Xhakaza said last week when presenting the budget to residents gathered at Eden Park.
Tabling the R37.5-billion operating budget and R6.9-billion capital and infrastructure budget, Xhakaza said this was the most progressive budget ever in the City’s history.
“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,” said Xhakaza.
“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.”
For the 2018-2019 financial year, the budgeted operating expenditure is expected to be R37.5-billion, comprising revenue generated internally (R29.2-billion), operating grants (R6-billion) and capital grants (R2.3-billion).
Xhakaza said spending on capital and infrastructure projects was expected to be R6.9-billion in 2018 and 2019, an increase of R300-million from the 2017/18 financial year. The capital budget will comprise revenue generated internally (R976.1-million), government grants (R2.3-billion) and loans (R3.6-billion), he pointed out.
Xhakaza added that the city of Ekurhuleni was determined to eliminate unauthorised expenditure.
He said the city delivered good quality services to its citizens because it was run by management that was committed to clean financial management and efficient administration.
This has been confirmed in the auditor general’s recently released 2016-2017 financial year audit report, which revealed a complete elimination of unauthorised expenditure in the city.
“Ekurhuleni achieved an unqualified audit for the year, with a reduction in the number of factors of concern to the auditor general and a reduction of unauthorised expenditure from R65-million to zero. The cash position of the city remains above the R5-billion mark at R5.2-billion,” said Xhakaza.
The MMC said there will be no room for financial mismanagement and corruption in the city of Ekurhuleni.
“We must continue to improve our coffers so that we have enough money to implement our programmes. We need a very strong backroom operation system, anchored by relevant and reliable staff, with skills to serve the people,” he said.
Xhakaza also announced that the bus rapid transit (BRT) service, Harambee, which is behind schedule, had been allocated R1.4-billion.
There have been challenges, but the city aims to operationalise the service before the end of the financial year.
“We have been able to unlock some project management challenges that we have experienced. The BRT is now nicely in motion. The bus is in the testing phase. We are now busy concluding bus stations and stream crossing,” said Xhakaza.
The Harambee BRT system is expected to link cities and towns such as Boksburg, Kempton Park and Germiston in Ekurhuleni.
Xhakaza also revealed that R615-million will go towards the fixing of potholes, clearing of the storm water drainage system and resurfacing of already existing roads.
Thousands of people living at the Malandela, Mpilisweni, Alberton station, Masetshaba, Emandleni, Kalamazoo, Newland and Tokyo Sexwale informal settlements, among others, today enjoy solar lighting from the city’s rollout of 32 878 photovoltaic lighting systems.
Xhakaza said about 6 290 families have electricity following the reticulation of homes in Villa Lisa Ext 2, Langeville Extensions 6 and 8, Marikana, Thintwa, Phola Park, Winnie Mandela and Holomisa informal settlements. Illegally connected power cables, largely running underground at Enhlanzeni and Vusimuzi informal settlements in Tembisa, have been removed to reduce power supply interruptions in the area and surroundings.
Over 11 000 more homes are being electrified in N12, Gugulethu, Everest, Comet & Peter Mokaba townships, he announced.
“The city will increase electricity [tariffs] by between 5.32% and 8.5%, subject to usage. We are also proposing a 12.96% increase in water; this is the same increase which was announced by Rand Water,” said Xhakaza. Sanitation tariffs, he said, will increase by 9%.
“This is informed by the cost of sewer purification processes undertaken by Erwat [East Rand Water Care Association]. The refuse removal tariff will increase by 7.5% for all users.”
He said there will not be an increase in tariffs of library and information services, library auditoriums, cemetery and crematoria, the use of arts, culture and heritage facilities and the hire of parks and facilities.
“We will continue to provide services at tariffs that are cost-effective but also take into account the affordability levels for our citizens,” he said.
Xhakaza said the revised indigent support policy increased the threshold for qualification from R3 200 to R5 090.
“This will increase the number of people who qualify for services,” he said.
“To assist the indigent, the amount exempt from property rates increases to R150 000 from R100 000. The city will allocate R1.2-billion to human settlements which will cover the acquisition of land and properties, electrification of informal settlements and the development of mega projects. The maintenance of hostels and rental stock will receive R70-million.”
Xhakaza said to upgrade energy infrastructure, the energy department will receive R576-million to enhance the networks in Alberton, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, KwaThema and Daveyton.
“It will also assist to broaden lighting to Katlehong, Etwatwa, KwaThema, Springs, Vosloorus and Tembisa. We will set aside R678-million towards the improvement of the road network, with R2-billion in a three-year period,” he added.
Finance and economic development 2018-2019 budget summary
In order to re-industrialise, the department of economic development has allocated R491-million over the medium term revenue and expenditure framework (MTREF), with R169-million for the 2018-19 financial year.
Key projects that will drive this strategic theme include:
Information, communications and technology (ICT):
The City is investing R330-million in the new financial year and almost R1-billion in the MTREF in the area of ICT. This intervention will improve billing accuracy, assist in the introduction of e-government services and improve the turnaround time to payment of suppliers. For broadband roll out, R66.6-million is budgeted and R35.5-million for fibre.
Energy infrastructure is allocated R576-million and R1.7-billion over the MTREF.
An amount of R727-million in 2018-2019 and R2.1-billion in three years will go towards the construction of the new taxi ranks in Greenfield, Katlehong and Windmill Park.
The department of health receives an allocation of R42-million and R289-million over the MTREF.
Major projects include:
Sport, recreation, arts and culture
The department of sport, recreation, arts and culture has been allocated R113-million and R400-million in the MTREF for, among others:
The roads in the city of Ekurhuleni have been allocated R678-million in the new financial year and R2-billion in the MTREF for projects such as:
An amount of R1.2-billion is allocated in 2018-2019 and R3.8-billion in the MTREF and includes:
An amount of R3.7-billion is allocated to the most vulnerable and indigent people, an increase of R600-million compared to the previous financial year. The budget proposed an increase in the value of property exempted from property rates from the first R250 000. Various other grants on assessment rates, such as pensioners’ rebate, rebate to low income earners, properties zoned for religious purposes, will continue in the new financial year.
Waste and environmental management
An amount of R1.3-billion is set aside in the MTREF and R472-million in the 2018-2019 financial year for projects such as:
The tabled budget proposes the following tariff increase:
Achievements in the past 20 months
The city’s success stories of the past 20 months include: