City units miss targets

2016-01-20 15:18
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Six months into the 2015/2016 budget and almost all business units in the Msunduzi Municipality have not met their target in spending their allocated budgets.

In the midst of a litany of complaints by residents about water leaks, potholes and electricity problems, the Infrastructure Services Portfolio, responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and development of the municipality, only spent around 25% of their R589 434 000 capital.

Msunduzi Municipality chief financial officer (CFO) Nelisiwe Ngcobo presented the 2015/2016 mid-year budget performance review to the council’s executive committee (Exco) yesterday, saying she hoped for an improvement by the end of January.

Infrastructure Services held the highest unspent balance — 74,91% — among all the units in the municipality.

Ngcobo said although upgrades were taking place in the city, the council is still faced with the challenge of ageing infrastructure that needed to be addressed during the rest of the financial year.

She added that the performance on conditional grants expenditure needed to improve.

Ngcobo presented a summarised review to the executive committee yesterday however. A detailed mid-year budget review will be presented to Msunduzi’s full council today.

She added that revenue collections in the financial year to date were not high enough and that debtors fluctuated month to month.

Exco councillor Jabu Ngcobo said she was “disturbed” at the fact that the status of contract workers were not included in the mid-year budget review.

“I do not see anything on the absorption of contract workers. We want to see us at least beginning a process to absorb some of those contract workers following the recent incidents,” said the councillor. She said in light of recent strikes and news that some workers have been contracted to the municipality for more than nine years, the municipality needed to absorb “at least 20% of contract workers”.

Exco agreed to add the recommendation that funds should be made available for the absorption of some contract workers.

Fellow Exco member Judith Lawrence added that the council would need to increase their rates base as residents in areas such as Woodlands have no space to build houses.

“When people build houses, our rates base automatically increases. We need to look at that,” said Lawrence. However, CFO Ngcobo said the council had already began working on a project to increase the council’s rates base.

Ngcobo added that the council was struggling with revenue collection in the Vulindlela area.

“We have established that there are no points in Vulindlela for the residents there to pay their bills. We have started to set up satellite payment points at local shops in the area so that people could pay their bills there. This is only temporary until we set up our own offices in the area,” she said.

Council anticipated a R34-million collection from Vulindlela in this financial year, however, they missed the target dismally.

“Collection was at four percent when we took over the area and we are still sitting at around the same percentage now. Since there are no payment points in the area, the residents find it expensive and difficult to come into Pietermaritzburg to pay.”

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said it was important for the city council to go to Vulindlela on a “massive campaign”.

“Notwithstanding poverty and unemployment in the area, there are other issues that need to be addressed there,” said Ndlela.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  budget

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