City adopts thorny budget

2018-05-31 16:39

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Msunduzi council has adopted the City’s budget for 2018/19 financial year despite the opposition parties’ protests at “unaffordable” tariff hikes.

During Wednesday’s tabling of the budget, Mayor Themba Njilo said the municipality is on the recovery path from its disclaimer audit opinion.

The tariffs, which will come into effect on July 1, include a 13% hike for water, 6,84% for electricity and six percent for the recently-introduced recycling tariff.

Njilo said the 13% is what Umgeni Water will be charging Msunduzi and the municipality did not consider the operational cost mark-up.

At least R315,7 million has been set aside for the upgrading of the water infrastructure, which is hoped to reduce material loss.

“One of the unacceptable practices in this municipality is the underspending on allocated infrastructure budgets, the terrible consequence of which is to forfeit money back to the National Treasury. This is a grave injustice for which there shall be consequences,” said Njilo.

He urged councillors as well as officials to phuma esixukwini (come out of the crowd) and make a meaningful contribution to the lives of people of Msunduzi, even if no one comes out in support or praises their good deeds.

The opposition parties acknowledged that the municipality needs to improve its financial situation, but said it should not shift the burden to ratepayers by forcing them to pay unaffordable tariffs.

ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand said Njilo presented a positive but “not realistic speech” in terms of addressing service delivery challenges in Msunduzi. “If you go to Checkers they say, ‘we will give you more for less’. At this municipality we are saying, ‘we are going to give you less but you must pay more’,” he said.

DA’s caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said Msunduzi is illegally charging the recycling tariff because it is not providing the service.

He said the hike in the water tariff could have been avoided by fairly billing the 10 wards in Vulindlela that are on the flat rate and curbing water losses.

Majola added that the 2016/17 annual report indicated water losses mounting to R109,2 million, which represented 29% to 31% of the total water purchased. “The flat rate of R90,91 for approximately 24 000 legally connected households can’t be a permanent solution. All customers must be billed as per consumption. This will reduce water losses,” he said.

IFP’s Thinasonke Ntombela said the City should still try and get Umgeni Water to reduce the water tariff because many will not be able afford to pay, which will affect the revenue collection.

The ANC won the vote to adopt the budget as it is.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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