‘Heated discussions’ over public money as Councils announce their budgets

Ugu district mayor, Councillor Mondli Chiliza, announces the 2017/2018 budget at a council meeting held last Thursday at Ray Nkonyeni Municipality council chambers.

BOTH Ugu and Ray Nkonyeni municipalities have announced their budgets for the next financial year, insisting they’ve exhausted all avenues to ensure service delivery, despite an outcry from some councillors about the budget not being enough.

Although both budgets were approved, Ray Nkonyeni council had a tricky time approving its R1-billion budget at a council meeting held on Tuesday.

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After heated discussions, the DA rejected the budget, citing there were not enough funds allocated for maintenance and infrastructure, while the IFP kept its distance and abstained from accepting the budget.

DA councillor Doug Rawlins said the tabled budget did not address crucial aspects such as potholes, deteriorating beach facilities, stormwater drains and various other important infrastructures.

Ray Nkonyeni Municipality speaker, Councillor Doctor Njoko (left) and municipal manager, Max Mbili, announce the 2017/2018 financial budget at a media briefing held on Tuesday.

“We are of the view that treasury guidelines were ignored, as the maintenance budget was below the suggested eight percent of total assets of the municipality.”

Ray Nkonyeni’s budget sits at just over a billion rand, with an operating budget of R830-million and capital budget of R132,8 million.

Rates and service charges will increase by six percent, as well as 1,8 percent for electricity charges as per energy regulator, NERSA.

The mayor, Councillor Cynthia Mqwebu, said that, when tabling the budget, council had considered inputs from business people, ratepayers and communities.

“I am aware that the budget is not enough and we cannot afford to wait for perfect conditions; goal-setting is often a matter of balancing timing against available resources.”

Ugu wants to improve services

A budget of more than R1,3-billion was tabled and approved at an Ugu council meeting held last Thursday. A capital budget of more than R362-million was set aside to deal with strategic focus areas which included economic, social, asset management as well as rehabilitating municipal infrastructures.

There was a slight increase from the previous financial year’s operational budget sitting at R966-million for the next financial year.

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Ugu mayor, Councillor Mondli Chiliza, said the budget had put people’s needs for proper water and sanitation first, with the hope of changing people’s perceptions of Ugu.

“All that we want to hear from our communities is that Ugu is better than it was before.”

The mayor suggested that a budget should be telling public money where to go instead of wondering where it went to.

Other critical items on the budget include:

* Youth funds – R2 036 500;

* Sports and Recreation – R3 100 000;

* Mayoral graduate programme – R420 000;

* Early childhood development – R235 000.

For detailed Ugu and Ray Nkonyeni municipalities’ budget speeches, visit www.southcoastherald.co.za

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  AUTHOR
Zimasa Mgwili
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