Msunduzi budget in limbo

2012-04-02 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality is one of 66 financially distressed municipalities countrywide receiving help from national Treasury.

The aid package includes budgets being scrutinised to check whether they are credible, sustainable and financially viable.

On Friday the national Treasury spokesperson, Jabulani Sikhakhane, confirmed that Msunduzi was one of the 66 municipalities being helped whose budget would therefore come under scrutiny.

Msunduzi Municipality’s draft budget with its proposed increases of 22% in water charges and 16% in electricity tariff has been criticised by civic organisations for being unaffordable and unsustainable.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gave the number of municipalities being helped in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Independent Democrat MP Joe McGluwa.

Gordhan said a starting point in assisting these municipalities was that national and provincial Treasury departments would work with municipalities on their 2012/13 budgets.

He said a number of measures had been introduced to rescue them, including the stipulation that credible assumptions underpin their budgets.

The minister said budgets would be assessed for credibility in the next two months and during this period councils would have to adjust their budgets to ensure sustainability.

Sikhakhane said assistance for Msunduzi Municipality had already started with the secondment of an advisor from the national Treasury.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi confirmed that the advisor was busy preparing a long-term financial recovery plan for the municipality.

Sikhakhane told The Witness that the national Treasury had not yet seen the draft budget of the municipality and that it would be thoroughly reviewed once it was submitted.

Msunduzi Municipality, which faced financial collapse two years ago, was placed under administration by the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube.

The measure was lifted at the beginning of this year. However, the outgoing administrator said at the time that while the municipality was out of the intensive care unit, it was still in recovery.

demand answers, da tells residents

THE Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal is to submit written parliamentary questions to Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube as to why is there such a disparity in the municipal tariff increases of Msunduzi and eThekwini.

Durban’s draft budget, tabled last week, was praised by all political parties for being reasonable and within inflation levels. Water in Durban is to go up by 12,5% for residences and 15,5% for businesses, and electricity by 11%.

DA spokesperson for local government George Mari said he would also be asking:

• What is the justification for the huge increases in Msunduzi?

• What is the municipality doing to increase its debt collection rate?

• What is the municipality doing to curb water loss?

• What is the municipality doing about infrastructure maintenance?

Mari called the Msunduzi draft budget punitive, saying residents were paying the price for years of maladministration and wasteful expenditure: “The hikes should set off alarm bells for all Msunduzi ratepayers, who should be asking why they are being penalised for the negligence of others and why they must pay so much more than others for basic services.”

He urged residents to participate in the public discussions on the draft budget in the next six weeks “to avoid being bulldozed into paying the penalty for the prolonged mismanagement of public funds”.

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