Question marks over City of Cape Town’s budgetary public participation process
Cape Town – The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has expressed doubt over the City’s budgetary public participation process, saying it hoped it was not simply a mandatory exercise.
The City of Cape Town has called for public comment on the proposed tabled Budget by April 23, before the final budget is approved.
The draft budget was tabled by mayor Dan Plato during a virtual sitting recently.
Samwu deputy regional secretary Bridgette Nkomana said: “When it comes to public participation, the City of Cape Town is not really seeking for the public’s opinion. Just by the way they organise these public meetings and seek comments. If you have no access to technology, your voice is shut.”
Mayco member for finance Ian Neilson said the City had made R3.4 billion available to help qualifying residents with rates and services relief as part of its tabled Budget.
“The City continues to protect its residents and ratepayers as much as possible from rising costs, especially from Eskom’s massive price increase and to do this, extensive budget cuts have been made, most notably some R460 million has been cut on staffing and contracting services, while safeguarding basic service provision,” the City said.
The “Covid-19 crisis, Eskom’s steep electricity increase of 15.06%, a slow economic recovery and the general state of the national economy” were among the biggest factors impacting the City’s R56.4bn budget, Neilson said.
Civic group STOP CoCT administrator Sandra Dickson said the City should publish the “true” amount that was spent on relief for pensioners and to the public when they ran into difficulties arising from Covid-19 issues.
“The City chose to leave the thresholds to qualify for pensioner and indigent relief the same as in the previous Budget. The ward allocation was also not increased. It is therefore evident that (the City) awards increases to bolster their own income, but when it comes to the assistance of the paying public, no increases are considered.
“Every year around, R3bn is mentioned by the City as earmarked for rates and services ‘relief’. Genuine relief to all paying customers would be to redistribute the unspent portion of last year’s Budget to them in order to bring relief to the entire paying base of the City’s captured payers,” Dickson said.
Written comments on the tabled Budget can be submitted to Budget. [email protected] and verbal inputs can be made by calling 0800 212 176.
The tabled Budget can be viewed at www.capetown.gov.za/budget or a copy can be found at the nearest subcouncil office or library.