Ekurhuleni budget cushions residents, strengthens service provision

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pretoria - The City of Ekurhuleni has demonstrated its commitment to a pro-poor agenda with a R36.6 billion budget that supports poorer households, while strengthening the provision of services in the region. 

Finance MMC Doctor Xhakaza tabled the 2017/18 budget at the Ke Ditselane Village in Katlehong on Thursday, which struck a careful balance between revenue collection and expenditure. 

Addressing Council, Xhakaza said: “We are a City that remains well-grounded and committed to realising radical economic transformation, while aggressively attacking the three musketeers of poverty, joblessness and inequality.” 

The budget is made up of generated revenue of R26.2 billion, grants of R5.4 billion and assessment rates of R5 billion. The budget is based on an expected growth rate of 0.9% for property rates and refuse removal. 

Appreciating the tough economic situation faced by consumers, there will be no increase in property rates. Electricity tariffs will increase by between 1.8% and 2.2%, despite the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) approving a 7% tariff increase for Eskom’s bulk purchase for municipalities. The difference will be absorbed through energy efficiencies and the introduction of measures to curb energy loss. Water tariffs increase by 10%, sanitation tariffs by 9% and waste management services by 7.5%. 

There will be no tariff increases for cemeteries and crematoria, library and information services, library auditoriums, use of arts, culture and heritage facilities, and hire of parks. 

Taking care of residents’ needs 

The city remains committed to providing a package of services for the indigent that includes 100% rebate on assessment rates, free refuse removal, free 100kWh of electricity, free 9kl of water, free indigent burial and special rates for emergency services such as ambulances and fire-fighting. 

The City will continue to provide free Wi-Fi to residents and will continue the rollout of infrastructure, with an investment of R33 million in fibre. Ekurhuleni currently has 300 000 Wi-Fi users per month and wants to increase this to 50 000 users per month by end of this year. 

Increased capex budget 

Xhakaza announced a 23% leap in the capital expenditure (capex) budget to R6.4 billion with a record R20 billion allocation over the next five years. The repairs and maintenance budget goes up by 14% to R3.4 billion. 

These funds will be used to achieve the objective of the Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) 2055, which will result in a “Delivering City” by 2020. 

Ekurhuleni has put in place measures to achieve at least 90% of capital expenditure spending through proper planning, strong project and contract management as well vigilant oversight. 

Cost containment measures

Xhakaza said the City will continue with responsible and conservative management of finances and continue to find ways of reducing wastage.

Some of the cost containment measures in place include reduction of general expenses by 7.25% in the current financial year, reduction of the travel and catering budget by 10% in the next financial year and limiting overtime pay to the maximum of 40 hours per month for qualifying staff. 

Additional cost-cutting measures include telephone costs, reduction of budgets for functions and events and further driving efficiencies in the management of fleet. 

Building homes for the poor

A total of R1 billion is allocated to housing mega projects. The Energy Department will get R718 million to fund projects, including the electrification of reblocked informal settlements. 

The City continues to invest in skills and capacity. An additional 1 500 youth will be placed in internship programmes over and above the 3 513 already contracted. Learnerships will be increased to 315 from 275 at present. 

Ekurhuleni’s 10-point plan 

1. Manufacturing Revitalisation

2. Aerotropolis Masterplan Implementation

3. Acceleration of IDZ/SEZ (Special Economic Zone) Programme

4. Land Availability for Strategic Development

5. Support of SMMEs through Public Procurement

6. Implementation of Township Economy Strategy

7. Enabling Public Transport System

8. Massive Public Infrastructure Investment

9. Promote Localisation and Production

10. Skills, Capability Development and workplace stabilisation

 - SAnews.gov.za