By Mzukona Mantshontsho
The City of Johannesburg delivered a record budget of over R40 billion for the 2013/14 financial year consisting of operational expenditure of R36.3 billion and new capital spending of R7.5 billion.
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance, Geoffrey Makhubo, said Johannesburg is the first municipality in South Africa to present a multi-year capital budget of R30.1 billion. The self-funding part of this Budget will grow to above 65% from a current average of 39%.
“We are able to achieve this despite the challenging global and regional economic environment,” he said. “In the current year our finances continued to strengthen, bolstered by sound financial strategies and forward thinking by the city.”
The City’s achievement can be attributed to effective financial management and sound planning of our operations. “Within the City of Johannesburg there is a strong commitment to prudent financial management at all levels; ensuring tightened controls, strengthened policies and procedures and the attainment of a clean audit,” said Makhubo.
The Budget follows on the Thursday 9 May State of the City Address by the Executive Mayor, Councillor Mpho Parks Tau. In this he made major announcements on the City’s intention to reshape its urban form, make a decisive break with apartheid spatial planning and construct a future based on equity, accessibility and sound economic principles.
At the core of this approach is the emphasis on Corridors of Freedom. These corridors will be developed to support inclusive, high-density, mixed-use developments to reduce commuting times and costs. During the course of this year, the City of Joburg will be consulting with residents to finalise the nodes of the Corridors of Freedom with focus on the medium term being Soweto to the CBD (along Pert Empire); CBD to Alexandra; Alexandra to Sandton; Turfontein node and the mining belt. The most efficient urban form is compact, mixed land use with extensive public transport network that includes high intensity movement corridors and with attractive environments for walking and cycling.
The Budget contains detailed programmes for spending by Johannesburg’s departments and Municipal Entities over the coming three years. More than 50% of the operating Budget is allocated to sustainable services and strategic infrastructure.
The operating Budget for Public Safety will grow by 5.1% to R2.3 billion. The focus is on crime prevention operations targeted at violent crime in particular and the continued roll out of the JMPD 10Plus initiative – the JMPD 10Plus initiative being a community based policing initiative which will see the deployment of at least 10 JMPD officers in each of the City’s 130 wards. This will be followed by the multi-disciplinary City teams moving into the wards to start with the implementation of the new strategy. The teams will not only be responsible for crime prevention but also report incidences of urban decay such as potholes, water leaks, faulty traffic signals, illegal dumping and derelict buildings to the responsible departments.
MMC Makhubo announced that the average tariff increases for water and electricity are mostly lower or equal to the increases announced by the bulk suppliers, Eskom and Rand Water.
Residents who are able to manage their consumption of water and power will benefit from the step-tariff system that is in place in Johannesburg. The City also grants wide-spread relief to poor households through the Extended Social Package. The Expanded Social Package (ESP), termed “Siyasizana”, is a basket of poverty alleviation benefits the City disburses to needy individuals and households within the City.
The programme is offering subsidies for a basket of services to deserving individuals. These subsidies are for services such as water, electricity, rates, refuse removal and sanitation to citizens earning below R4 257 .58 per month.
It assists needy families to access services delivered by the City’s Departments and Municipal Entities, other government agencies and non-profit, non-governmental and community-based groups linked to the City of Johannesburg.
Since the City launched the ESP, more than 650 000 individuals have assisted have benefited. Many of these beneficiaries were identified through the database of those receiving state pensions and child support grants through pay-points in the City. Over 140 000 are already receiving rebates linked to the property on which they live.
Job creation is also a central and integral part of the ESP. Already over 9000 people have been placed in income-generating opportunities since enrolling with the ESP, indicating the progress the City is making in helping some of the citizens out of the poverty bracket.