City misses out on R52 mln

2016-10-06 10:08
Money returned after Msunduzi fails to spend conditional grants meant to fix issues.

Money returned after Msunduzi fails to spend conditional grants meant to fix issues. (File)

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More than R52 million which was to be used to improve Pietermaritzburg is gone.

The Witness can reveal that over R52 million in conditional grants meant for the much-needed upgrading of ageing infrastructure and new houses for the poor in Msunduzi has been snatched back by the national government after the municipality failed to spend the money.

Msunduzi Municipality was given funds from the Department of Housing and the National Treasury for housing projects and the upgrade of ageing electrical infrastructure, but it had to be returned to these departments because it was never used.

This was revealed at a municipal finance committee meeting on Wednesday.

The funding from the Department of Housing amounted to R27 561 119 for low-cost housing to be developed in vital areas in Msunduzi.

These included Edendale Unit H, Cinderella Park, Woodlands Extension and Copesville.

According to the report presented to the finance committee, the Copesville and Edendale Unit H funds were returned to the department.

The funding, broken down, showed over R8,3 million was to be used in Copesville and almost R19 million should have been used in Edendale.

It does not show if the amounts for Woodlands Extension and Cinderella Park — R126 558 and R151 416 respectively — were returned to the department.

But a total of R27 308 334 was returned to the Housing Department.

An amount of R25 345 274 meant to be spent on upgrading the city’s ageing electrical infrastructure and addressing its electricity woes was also returned to National Treasury.

The funding was given to the municipality for the Integrated National Electricity Programme — Upgrade of Ageing Infrastructure project.

Conditional grants are funds allocated by a government department for a specific project in the city, and cannot be transferred to another project.

If the grant is unspent, it has to be returned to the department concerned, or the municipality could ask for the funds to be rolled over into the next financial year. However, the government does not allow funds allocated to be rolled over for two consecutive financial years.

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said the failure to provide access to adequate housing was a violation of the constitutional rights of the city’s residents.

“Communities are desperately waiting for housing, especially in these four areas,” he said.

Homing in on the city’s electricity woes and noticeably ageing infrastructure, Majola said this was a huge challenge facing the city.

“Citizens of Msunduzi are facing challenges of unreliable power supply due to ageing infrastructure, but the municipality cannot spend this grant for such an important project,” he said.

Majola said they were still waiting for the reasons from the technical department for why the funding was not used.

IFP caucus leader Dennis Ntombela did not answer his cellphone when contacted for comment.

It is believed a full report on why the grants were unspent would be presented during a future finance committee meeting.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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