KDM billion-rand budget approved

2016-06-01 06:00

THE KwaDukuza Council approved the 2016/17 budget at its last full council sitting for the current term of office last Thursday, 26 May.

An amount of R1,6 billion was approved, the biggest budget to be adopted by council, according to the municipality’s communications officer Sphelelo Ngobese.

“A total R1,3 billion has been apportioned for operational expenses and a balance of R300 million towards capital expenditure,” he said.

He said it is in the best interest of council to approve a budget he described as being people-centred and that will help advance the delivery of services.

Tabling his budget presentation at the council chambers, KwaDukuza Mayor Ricardo Mthembu thanked members of council for their contributions over the years.

He said KwaDukuza Municipality remains a victim of its own successes when it comes to protests over human settlements or housing needs.

“In the current term, since 2011, council has addressed a number of issues relating to human settlements projects. The projects which we see in our areas bear testimony to this. Council has engaged communities on various occasions to inform them about the progress and challenges we face with regard to service delivery related projects, yet when people engage in protests it is as though they are not informed. In the process those who have their own political agendas use the concerns of the citizens for their own political gains,” said Mthembu

He said the country is faced with serious economic and political challenges, adding that international and national trends do not present a bright picture about the future.

“Global growth was estimated at 3.1% in 2015 with a projected growth of 3.4% in 2016 and 3.6% in 2017. The picture is not good for emerging economies such as ours as the world faces lower commodity prices and strains in some large emerging market economies which will continue to impact negatively on growth prospects in 2016-2017. As a result of this slower economic performance the domestic economy is under severe pressure,” said Mthembu.

He said due to such economic challenges the KZN Provincial Treasury issued Circular PT (10) of 2016/2017 relating to cost containment measures came into effect on 1 April 2016.
Mthembu said council will have to revise its own cost containment measures to be in line with the ones issued by the province.

“On the home front, the political landscape has its own challenges which have the potential to threaten stability in our communities. The recent protests have involved communities demanding houses and also raising issues related to the nominations of councillors, a matter that has nothing to do with the Municipality”, said Mthembu.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) raised several concerns including the increase of employee costs from R294 million in the previous year to R323 million, an unadjusted amount for debt impairment which remains at R35 million; the budget not keeping line to cost containment measures according to circular 82 of the Municipal Financial Management Act, among other concerns.

DA caucus leader Madhun Sing said: “We need to cut the frills, expensive functions, catering, artists, and many other unnecessary expenses including beach parties [which] must be stopped or reviewed.”

He called for a better capacitated finance department that would outsource less and perform certain functions from within the municipality, adding that delaying to refurbish municipal assets would be costly in the long run.

Speaking about the R650 000 spent by the municipality for the Africa Day celebrations held last Wednesday, Sing said: “We must be frugal and not frivolous with ratepayers’ money and I believe that kind of money could have well been spent on clean-up operations in our town and wards.”

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