‘CFO not realistic’

2018-05-25 16:00
IFP, DA believe there won't be salary hikes for councillors.

IFP, DA believe there won't be salary hikes for councillors. (File)

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“Don't bother to budget for councillors’ salary increases; at this rate you’re not going to get them.”

That’s what both the IFP and the DA in Msunduzi told the council yesterday as they believe the municipality is heading for another negative audit opinion. And if that happens, no increases to councillor’s salaries will be approved.

The opposition parties were reacting to the tabling of the revised draft budget for 2018/19 by the chief financial officer Neli Ngcobo during Thursday’s executive committee meeting. The City has projected a 7,5% hike in the councillors’ remuneration, which will increase the salary bill from R45,2 million to R48,5 million.

In March The Witness reported that the KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, declined Msunduzi’s application for councillors to get salary increases as a consequence of the disclaimer audit opinion for 2016/17.

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said on Thursday the municipality does not need to set aside the 7,5% because the councillors will not be getting a salary hike in the financial year starting in July.

“The indications are clear that we are going to get worse than or the same as what we received in the last financial year, in terms of the audit opinion, therefore the [MEC’s] reasons for objecting to our application for an increase will also be the same,” he said.

He proposed that the R3 million budgeted for an increase be diverted to service delivery programmes instead. This proposal was seconded by the IFP’s Thinasonke Ntombela.

The pair also expressed concern regarding the municipality’s inability to spend all the grants given by government departments for projects.

“This means that our municipality does not have a proper plan because we apply for the grants and we are given the grants but we don’t utilise them,” said Ntombela.

According the auditor-general’s report, during the 2016/17 term the City underspent by R168,1 million on the public transportation infrastructure grant and almost R30 million on the neighbourhood development partnership grant.

An application was made for the rollover of R28,1 million worth of grants but only R1,1 million for the municipal infrastructure grant was approved, resulting in the rest being surrendered to National Treasury in December.

On Thursday, ANC councillor Eunice Majola-Zondi rejected the opposition parties’ view. “The budget is about planning and we are planning to spend all the grants that we are going to get from the government departments. We can’t plan to underspend,” she said.

Responding to their concerns, Ngcobo said Msunduzi has to project the increase in the salaries on the budget even if they might be turned down.

Earlier this week officials from National Treasury had a two-day meeting with the City’s management to review the draft budget and the financial recovery plan which is hoped to reverse the disclaimer.

Ngcobo said one of the things that have been prioritised as part of the plan is a meter audit, which is part of the revenue enhancement strategy.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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