Joburg sitting pretty despite criticism

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Joburg's first unqualified audit report since 2010 is a clear indication that the city is delivering a world-class African city. File photo: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - Joburg’s first unqualified audit report since 2010 is a clear indication that the city is delivering a world-class African city.

This is according to Geoff Makhubo, Joburg’s member of the mayoral committee responsible for finance, as he delivered the 2012/13 annual report yesterday.

He said Joburg is in excellent financial shape, despite huge criticism from opposition political parties.

“This report shows we are indeed creating a well-run, efficiently managed and sustainable city of the future,” he said.

Makhubo explained that the city had not achieved a clean report, as opposed to an unqualified report, mainly because of matters relating to compliance and annual targets that were missed – some by less than 10 percent, he said.

“Joburg, measured by any indicator, in 2014, and after 20 years of democracy, is a much better place to live in for the vast majority of its residents than it was in 1994.

“Today we can say with a sense of great pride that the city has truly turned around. We have laid the foundation and we are now committing Joburg to a promising future,” Makhubo said.

An important feature of the report was the fact that the billing issues and uncollected revenue, which dominated previous negative findings, have been kept to a minimum.

“This is the clearest indication yet that our revenue and billing interventions in cleaning up the quality data on the billing system are yielding positive results.

“We have broken the back of the billing problems – there are still issues such as meters and meter readings that have to be resolved,” he added.

Regarding service delivery protests, Makhubo said a special investigation was under way to determine the causes, and steps would be taken to address them.

Joburg is being transformed into a digital city, with about 900km of fibre-optic broadband cable being rolled out. “The new network will reduce the cost of telecommunications and increase access to information technology for every corner of the city,” he said.

The start of work on the “corridors of freedom” would stimulate the growth of mixed-use commercial and residential developments around the inner city. “These will go hand-in-hand with the growth of a reliable, affordable and accessible public transport system which enables communities to live, work, shop and play within a mixed-use space and closer to economic activities and job opportunities,” he said.

The council collected 92 percent of revenue billed, which city chief financial officer Reggie Boqo said was higher than last year, but still not sufficient.

“We are aiming for 97 percent next year,” he said.

Highlights

* A net surplus of R3.4 billion, with net assets improving by 13 percent to R30.4bn.

* Improved liquidity management, with an increase in cash and cash equivalents from R2.2bn to R5.4bn.

* The debt-to-revenue ratio stands at 38.77 percent, down from 41.24 percent.

* 98 percent of households now have piped water.

* The sanitation backlog has been reduced to less than 5 percent, despite a 37 percent growth in population over the past decade.

* About 900km of fibre-optic broadband cable is being rolled out.

* 4 000 small businesses are benefiting from city programmes.

* Stricter by-laws have resulted in a 72 percent reduction in illegal advertising.

* 92 percent of capital expenditure has been spent.

* R100bn has been budgeted over the next 10 years for roads, water, power and broadband.

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