9 ways Joburgers will benefit from the budget vote

2015-05-26 17:49
Geoffrey Makhubo

Geoffrey Makhubo (Nelius Rademan/Foto24 Gauteng)

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There could be some light at the end of the tunnel for Joburg informal settlement dwellers – R400 million has been set aside for the electrification of their areas in the next two financial years.

This was announced by member of mayoral committee for finance Geoffrey Makhubo, who was tabling the city’s budget in Sandton today.

“Candles, paraffin stoves and dimpaola [braziers], which are the norm for many residents of informal settlements, will soon be a thing of the past. We have set aside R200 million for the electrification of informal settlements in 2015-2016, with R200 million set aside for 2016-2017,” Makhubo said.

He tabled a R52-billion budget. From this, R42 billion would go towards operating expenditure and R10 billion to capital expenditure.

Makhubo announced some tariff increases and some good news for the poor, who would benefit from the city’s programmes set to bring them some relief.

Property rates were going up by 6%. Makhubo said this was “within the South African Reserve Bank inflation target range”.

“The proposed average tariff increase for electricity is 12.19% in line with the National Energy Regulator/Eskom-proposed tariff increase. The message we want to convey to our residents is the less electricity consumers use, the less they pay.

“The proposed water and sewerage tariff increase is 14% from the 2015-2016 financial year. This is, largely, a ‘pass-through cost’. For the 2015-2016 financial year, the city will increase refuse removal services by 8% for domestic, businesses and commercial customers.”

There is some relief though for those who cannot afford to pay at all.

“Within the context of the economic environment we are currently facing I would like to highlight aspects of our tariffs and rebates that are designed to provide relief to the residents of Johannesburg,” he said.

Residents who qualify were urged to apply for assistance through the city’s extended social package, which assists poverty stricken and vulnerable households and individuals. Makhubo said there were about 124 477 beneficiaries currently registered for the package.

Makhubo announced other relief measures:

» The first R200 000 of the value of all residential property is exempted from rating;

» Pensioners with gross monthly income of less than R7 850 would get 100% rebates on property rates. Those with income higher than R7 850, but less than R13 457, would qualify for a 50% rebate;

» Pensioners older than 70 years who owned a house worth R2 million or less received a 100% rebate on property rates;

» Child-headed households with property value not exceeding R2 million would get a 100% rebate on property rates;

» All households within the city would receive 6 kilolitres of free water every month;

» A subsidised water tariff structure was in place for those on prepaid meters;

» A subsidised sanitation and sewerage tariff structure was applicable for those on prepaid meters;

» Residential properties valued at less than R200 000 would receive free refuse removal service; and

» Varying subsidy packages were provided, depending on a household’s score on the city’s Poverty Index.

Meanwhile, Sandton was set to get a facelift with R150 million to be invested towards widening sidewalks, adding cycle lanes and introducing the Rea Vaya BRT and dedicated public transport lanes.

Sandton was set to host the EcoMobility World Festival in October, an event Makhubo said would “showcase the efforts we are making to promote public transport, walking and cycling as well as show residents that it is possible to commute using these modes”.

Meanwhile, the housing department was allocated an operating budget of R864 million for the current financial year and a multi-year capital budget allocation of R2.7 billion.

Makhubo said the money would be used for investment in the following:

» Bulk infrastructure, such as roads and storm-water management systems;

» To transform existing infrastructure in areas such as Kliptown, Diepsloot, Braamfischerville, Orange Farm, Dark City in Poortjie, Rabie Ridge, Eldorado and Princess;

» Building new inclusive mixed-use settlements including South Hills; and

» Hostel refurbishment and upgrades to transform the Orlando Women’s Hostel, Dube Hostel, and Jabulani Hostel.

Power was an inevitable subject for Makhubo as he announced City Power’s operating budget of R15.4 billion for 2015-2016 and a multi-year capital budget of R4.6 billion.

“We have all experienced the discomfort of load-shedding and its impact on our daily routine; children needing to do homework, mothers preparing meals and elderly people with electronic health equipment. City Power would continue the roll-out of prepaid and smart meters that would not only protect the city’s revenue streams but will also mitigate the impact of load-shedding through the load-limiting capabilities of the smart meters,” he said.
Read more on:    joburg  |  infrastructure

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