DA votes against Joburg budget saying it will increase financial pressure on residents
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Johannesburg - The City of Joburg’s amended budget for 2020/21 will plunge the city into a projected R272 million decrease in revenue, says the DA which voted against the budget.
DA Joburg leader, Leah Knott said the budget, voted for by the coalition partners, will increase financial pressure on residents and decrease delivery on basics like fixing roads and keeping the power on.
“We see the city increasing its expenses by R301 million, which will wipe out any surplus it might have by the end of the year. Any surplus would be vital to preventing further increases in rates, and electricity and water tariffs,” she said.
“The lockdowns in response to the current pandemic have left us in an economic depression, with unemployment at record highs. Residents are struggling to pay for their rates and services. We are in grave danger of making this city unaffordable for residents to live in and for businesses to operate successfully. The right response would be to tighten our belts and reduce expenses, or use our available funds to provide relief to residents and businesses,” she added.
Important items like R9m for upgrading the Hurst Hill substation which would have prevented electricity and water outages, and R200m to buy new fire engines as the city only has two, have now been left out in order to pay for additional staff costs.
These costs include paying staff to sit at home while old people stand in long queues at customer service centres.
“The DA will only support budgets which show a true commitment to providing residents with the services that they deserve, and which reflect an administration which is truly committed to rooting out the corruption that robs residents of their very lives,” added Knott.
The ANC, however, says the amended budget prioritised major infrastructure projects, economic revival, and continued service delivery.
Member of the mayoral committee for finance, Jolidee Matongo said in October 2020, the city had approved an approximate operational budget of R61.3 billion for 2020/21 while approximately R7.3bn capital budget was given the green light. However, in the 2020/21 adjustment budget, the revenue budget was reduced by R272.6m and expenditure increased by R301.2m. The net effect of the adjustments resulted in a surplus of R104.2 million before capital transfers.
“It comes at a time when there has been a prolonged deterioration of metropolitan economies, which have contracted by at least 8% in 2020. As a city, it is our responsibility to cushion residents who are already hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is therefore a need to revive our local economy through investment in major infrastructure projects, housing and continued service delivery,” he said.
Allocation of R12.8m for the restart of the Alexandra Automotive Hub.
– R9m under City Power to stimulate the SETA entities and to boost enterprise development.
– R5.5m for re-establishment of the Johannesburg Tourism Company. R92m for protective tools directed at Covid-19 containment, the vaccination roll-out campaign and the expansion of extended clinic hours.
– R18.1m on social development which includes R15m for the purchase and provision of vegetable packs for indigent communities. An additional R10m for Pikitup for personal protective equipment. A library in Lehae, south of Joburg, with free wi-fi connectivity.
– R12m for multi-purpose centres in Brixton, Paterson Park and Kliptown; R7.3m for new libraries in Noordgesig and Paterson Park. R90m for Pikitup fleet requirements due to the increase in demand for services, particularly in areas of domestic and informal settlements, street cleaning, illegal dumping, and greening.
– R53.5m to revive the city’s roads by the Joburg Roads Agency, which will see more work on pothole patching, curb maintenance and stormwater inlet cleaning.
– R98m for the planned replacement of water mains in the Sandton/ Alexandra area, with R50m also set aside for projected electricity charges for wastewater treatment plants across the city.
– R128m for the Orange Farm turnkey project.
– R515m for integrated human settlements and electrification of informal settlements including the Dube hostel renewal, the Fleurhof and Lufhereng mixed developments, the Alexandra extension 52 and Zandspruit extension 84.
– R14,3 million formalisation of informal settlements.
– R9 million to City Power to cater for the technical strategy for network health assessment to keep the lights on.
– R24.7 million for maintenance of retirement homes and flats.