Poor planning sees R26,9 mln for Msunduzi returned to Treasury

2018-01-23 13:30

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The cash-strapped Msunduzi Municipality has been forced to surrender R26,9 million after the National Treasury declined a request to roll over unspent grants.

In a December report the City’s accountant, Roshine Padayachee, said an application was made for the rollover of R28,1 million but only R1,1 million for the Municipal Infrastructure Grant was approved.

Treasury often allows for rollovers if the funds are committed for use in projects and the municipality complied with all the grant’s conditions in implementing those projects.

Msunduzi had to pay back R20,1 million for the Neighbourhood Development Grant, R3,9 million for the Integrated National Electrification Programme and R2,9 million for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The R1,1 million has to be used for the upgrade of Station Road, which will include construction of a bridge.

In a letter dated October 2017, the deputy director-general in the National Treasury, Malijeng Ngqaleni, said the rollover of the electrification grant was not approved because of poor planning by the municipality.

The grant was meant for the electrification of Mkondeni and Regina Road informal settlements.

The Regina Road project was completed in June but the Mkondeni project was never implemented due to a delay in the housing project by the City’s human settlements unit.

“During the 2017/18 financial year there is no Integrated National Electrification Programme allocation to Msunduzi Municipality for the electrification projects and there are no projects identified and prioritised to be implemented during the current 2017/28 financial year,” said Padayachee.

R3 mln to pay street cleaners not spent

Padayachee said some of the EPWP grant was not used because the programme was due to terminate 940 contracts in November 2016. She said protests by the outgoing group resulted in a delay in recruiting new people.

“The EPWP is not approved because the municipality did not submit sufficient supporting documents as required by the MFMA Circular in order to prove that the unspent amount is committed,” said Ngqaleni.

The Neighbourhood Development Grant rollover was not approved because the City’s unit responsible for administering the grant indicated that funding required for the completion of the projects has been accommodated in the 2017/18 allocation.

Padayachee said not spending grants timeously had service delivery implications, therefore general managers should make sure they are utilised on the projects they are allocated for.

In his November report Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu said the City also had to pay back R165 million after it underspent on the Public Transportation Infrastructure Grant. The funds had been given for the integrated rapid public transport system, which is currently under construction.

The ANC’s Sphamandla Khumalo said they would investigate and try to get to the bottom of the matter.

“Once we prove the allegations that have been made then the ANC will deal with the matter decisively,” he said.

However, opposition parties said the City has made it a habit not to spend all of the funds allocated for service delivery projects and millions are paid back to the national government every year.

“It’s an insult that the municipality is unable to spend the money on time, yet there is so much that needs to be done,” said Thinasonke Ntombela of the IFP.

He said managers of the affected units should not be allowed to get away with the “crime of failing to provide services to the people when the funds are available and not used”.

“It’s embarrassing to know that we have surrendered almost R3 million that was meant for the EPWP and yet there is litter and decay everywhere you look around the City,” added Ntombela.

Sibongiseni Majola of the DA said non-compliance and poor planning was costing Msunduzi millions every year.

He said the sad reality as that it was the residents that suffered because of the attitude of the officials who did not care about doing their jobs properly.

“Last week we were told that the municipality was struggling with revenue collection, but on one hand you’ve got a grant for electrification which will result in income-generation through the buying of tokens, but that grant is not used,” Majola said.

He said the underspending by not implementing projects such as the electrification often resulted in material loss through illegal connections.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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