PARLIAMENT –  The Select Committee on Appropriations (SeCOA) expressed serious concern over the increase in municipalities which adopted unfunded budgets which were 113 in the 2018/19 financial year, compared with 83 in the previous year. 

The South African Local Government Association (Salga) was asked to explain, among other things, why municipalities are continuously passing unfunded budgets without consideration of the Municipal Finance Management Act. 

Briefing the Select Committee on Appropriations, Salga officials said the reason for passing unfunded budgets were complex and had a number of contributing factors. One of these was the burdens placed on municipalities to fund projects which they had not budgeted for. Despite this, municipalities are often encouraged not to pass unfunded budgets. Salga was instructed to submit a list of municipalities’ unfunded mandates. 

The committee also questioned the actions taken by Salga to ensure that councillors were trained to understand section 71 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, 2003 reports of expenditure as published by the National Treasury. 

Officials told the committee that Salga had an established leadership institute which provides various training and capacity building courses to councillors. Salga had also entered into agreements with various institutions of higher learning which would equip councillors with the skills to respond to the challenges they were faced with. 

The committee questioned the effectiveness of district municipalities in supporting and co-ordinating local municipalities. Salga was asked to express itself on the possibility of doing away with district municipalities if they were not serving the people, and their funding used to strengthen the local municipalities. 

Officials said discussions between Salga and the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA should yield a view on this soon. 

Meanwhile, the committee committed itself to consider the final mandates from provinces, as well as the committee report on the 2018 Division of Revenue Amendment Bill on 20 November 2018.  

Supplied by the Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the acting chairperson of SeCOA Charel de Beer.