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Calls for comment on City budget



Emily Visser, Joburg Web Site, 28 March 2008

The public has been urged to comment on the City's proposed budget and Integrated Development Plan; it brings Joburg's purse to R26-billion.

Johannesburg will have another R1-billion to spend, if its proposed 2008/09 revenue and expenditure budget is passed. This brings its budget to R26-billion for the forthcoming financial year.

The medium-term budget for the 2008-09 financial year was approved by the council on 20 March and is now open for public comment until 25 April. It is informed by the City's draft Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for the same period, which is also open for public comment.

The City projects an increase of about 15 percent for the 2008-09 financial year, rising from R25-billion in 2007-08 to R26-billion.

SURPLUSES


It is tabling a draft operating revenue budget of R21-billion and operating expenditure budget of R19,1-billion. This leaves a projected surplus of R280-million for the 2008-09 year, R582-million for 2009-10 and R642-million for 2010-11. Surpluses will go toward capital infrastructure projects.

As in the past, the major chunk of the budget goes towards operating expenses, with R21-billion budgeted for this; R5,4-billion is allocated to the capital (capex or capital expenditure) budget.

Core departments that take the biggest share of this budget are finance (with 32,7 percent) to service the cost of borrowing money and making provision for bad debt; the metro police department (with 10,1 percent); the Executive Mayor's Office (also with 10,1 percent); transport (with 8,2 percent) and housing (with 7,5 percent).

"In carrying out its mandate of facilitating development, the City is faced with the challenge of managing competing priorities within budgetary constrains," its budget office reports.

CAPITAL PROJECTS


Key priorities to be addressed through the capex budget remain the eradication of informal settlements; accelerating housing delivery; crime and safety initiatives; poverty alleviation strategies; the Bus Rapid Transit system; and the 2010 Fifa World Cup, among others.

Metro police is allocated R2,6-million to upgrade facilities. Some R300-million is given over the next two financial years to hosting the World Cup. Facilities and infrastructure upgrades in previously disadvantaged areas are again a key focus with clinic upgrades, tarring gravel roads, park upgrades and various housing initiatives taking place in these areas.

Other key capital budget areas include electricity infrastructure improvements, with City Power receiving R1-billion. The BRT transport upgrade gets R980-million.

BUDGET PROCESS


The Municipal Finance Management Act provides the framework within which municipalities draw up budgets, with specific timelines for preparation and approval.

Before the draft budget is drawn up, the first budget lekgotla takes place, usually in November each year. This is followed by budget panel meetings, at which the budget proposals presented by City departments and municipal-owned entities are assessed.

The aim of the budget panel is "to ensure that proposed spending gives effect to the development objectives expressed in the City's Growth and Development Strategy". It also ensures that available resources are allocated in line with the City's priorities.

Its assessment is presented during the second budget lekgotla, which this year took place in the last week of February. City departments and entities again draw up draft medium-term budgets based on the suggested new allocations.

The draft budget and IDP are open for comment until 25 April. Anyone wishing to comment can write to the City manager. Comments can be sent to Lennette Fouche on fax number 011 339 2870 or via email on lennettef@ioburg.org.za, or to Shenaaz Hoff via email on shenaazh@ioburg.org.za, or posted to PO Box 1049, Johannesburg, 2000.

From: http://www.joburg.org.za/content/view/2336/168/

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