The City of Johannesburg has met this week’s deadline set by the Gauteng government to pass its 2020/2021 budget.
Failure to do so would have seen it facing challenges similar to Tshwane, which has been embroiled in court battles since being placed under administration by Premier David Makhura in February.
Finance MMC Jolidee Matongo tabled a R68.1-billion budget before 257 councillors, some of who participated in the virtual sitting remotely.
The EFF is the only party which did not support recommendations for both the operating budget and the capital budget.
Matongo said the budget prioritised tariff relief and rebates for pensioners, as the City – much like the rest of the world – battled against the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said property rate tariffs would be reduced from the proposed 4.9% increase to 4%, water tariffs would also be dropped from the planned 8.6% to 6.6%, and electricity would be reduced from 8.10% to 6.23%.
Matongo said the budget was attempting to balance the needs of residents, as well as negotiate the tough economic period, adding that the City was urgently looking at measures to bring relief to residents.
Among the highlights of the 2020/2021 budget tabled were:
- Over R1 billion for job creation and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) engagement through the roll-out of high-impact projects, included sewer upgrades, storm water upgrades, tarring of roads and housing developments in Orange Farm, Lakeside, Drieziek, Kapok, Ivory Park, Ebony Park, Mayibuye, Riverlea and Kliptown.
- Creation of jobs for 1 350 people to be employed across the city’s 135 wards – an initiative that will see each ward having a minimum of 10 people working daily.
- Three thousand, five hundred more housing units to be built in regions A, B, D and G – in addition to the ongoing mega projects in Lufhereng, Fleurhof, South Hills and Lehae.
- A total of R1.2 billion allocated for the formalisation of informal settlements over the medium term.
- The upgrading of the Central Fire Station in the inner city and the Protea Glen Fire Station in the new financial year.
- An allocation of R200 million made available for the procurement of fire engines.
- A seed funding of R50 million for youth development programmes in partnership with the provincial, national government and the private sector.
- Up to 500 000 food parcels and vouchers to be distributed to vulnerable households to address food insecurity.
- The construction and completion of clinics in Florida, Naledi, Bophelong, Turffontein, Zandspruit, Orchards and the Alexandra Hospice.
- Allocation to further ensure the availability of extended service hours in 14 additional clinics and the establishment of six substance abuse centres and 10 mobile clinics across the city.
- About R800 million allocated for the procurement of new buses for the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system to ease the current demand pressure on the existing fleet.
- Over R156 million set aside for hostel upgrades and R105 million for the upgrade of flats and old age homes.
- An allocation of R780 million set aside for the tarring of gravel roads across Johannesburg.
- Up to R820 million allocated for storm water upgrades across the city, including in Protea Glen.
- A total of R440 million set aside for the construction and upgrading of bridges.
- An operating budget of R12.8 billion in 2020/21 – with a three-year capital budget of R3.1 billion for the continuous supply of water and sanitation to the people of Johannesburg – both in formal and informal settlements.
- A three-year capital budget of R2.6 billion allocated to City Power to fund the provision of public lighting at R205 million, the electrification of informal settlements at R498 million and the electrification of mega projects at R100 million.
- An operating budget of R3 billion for Pikitup towards the ward-by-ward approach to waste management.
Matongo briefly touched on the City’s vision to bolster efforts to stimulate the country’s economy and create more opportunities for young people, with R50 million being set aside as seed funding for youth development, which he said would work in partnership with provincial and national government, as well as the private sector.
The budget would also focus on the elderly in Johannesburg, and Motongo announced that a pensioner income-qualifying criterion for tariff relief interventions had increased by 6%.
“This means a pensioner with a property value of below R2.5 million, and an income of below R10 338 for the lower limit or below R17 719 for the upper limit, will receive a 100% rebate on their rates,” he explained.
“This effectively means an increased number of pensioners will now qualify for the City’s rebates.”