The City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Council has approved the 2020/21 Adjustment Budget, which prioritises major infrastructure projects, economic revival, and continued service delivery.
In his presentation of the adjusted budget in Council on Friday, 26 February 2021, the Member of Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Finance, Cllr. Jolidee Matongo indicated that the prioritised items for adjustment were in a bid to stimulate the local economy and boost socio-economic development amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic impact on the metropolitan and residents.
MMC Matongo pointed out that the adjustment budget comes at a time when there has been a prolonged deterioration of metropolitan economies, which have contracted by at least eight percent (8%) in 2020.
“As a City, it is our responsibility to cushion residents who are already hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is therefore a need to revive our local economy through investment in major infrastructure projects, housing and continued service delivery – hence the Government of Local Unity (GLU) has prioritised allocations to these priorities,” he said.
The Adjustment Budget includes the allocation of R12.8 million for the operationalization of the Alexandra Automotive Hub, which includes a component shop, tyre fitment & alignment, panel beating, auto electrical work and services and maintenance workshops.
“The GLU government has further allocated R9 million under City Power for Enterprise Supplier Development to stimulate the SETA entities and to boost enterprise development. This is alongside the investment of R5.5 million for the re-establishment and operationalization of the Johannesburg Tourism Company,” MMC Matongo said.
The MMC added that the City has also extensively invested resources in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which saw health employee related costs increased by R92 million for efforts and protective tools directed at Covid-19 containment, the vaccination roll-out campaign and the expansion of extended clinic hours.
“We have also increased expenditure for social development by R18.1 million, which includes R15 million for the purchase and provision of vegetable packs for indigent communities. Furthermore, under Pikitup, an additional R10 million has been allocated for personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that staff members are provided with sufficient PPEs,” he said.
MMC Matongo added: “In the era of Covid-19, children in Lehae, south of Johannesburg, must also have access to a library with a free wifi connectivity to enable them to continue doing their schoolwork during school interruptions, hence it is urgent for the City of operationalise newly completed community facilities.”
He was referring to the allocation of R12 million for the operationalisation of multi-purpose centres in Brixton, Paterson Park and Kliptown, alongside a R7.3 million set aside for new libraries in Lehae, Noordgesig and Paterson Park. “The operationalisation of these essential community facilities requires human capital to be able to function, hence it is a given that the move designed to directly benefit communities will impact employee related costs of the City as reflected in the budget,” MMC Matongo said.
In the interest of sustainable service delivery, particularly for Pikitup services, the budget further prioritised the allocation of R90 million to compliment fleet requirements due to the increase in demand for services, particularly in areas of domestic and informal settlements, street cleaning, illegal dumping, and greening.
The budget also allocated R53.5 million to the revival of the City’s roads by the Joburg Roads Agency, which will see more work on pothole patching, curb maintenance and stormwater inlet cleaning. A further R9 million has been allocated to City Power to cater for the Technical Strategy for Network Health Assessment to keep the lights on in the City.
Furthermore, the Adjustment Budget included the allocation of R98 million for the planned replacement of watermains in the Sandton/Alexandra area – with R50 million also set aside for projected electricity charges for Wastewater Treatment Plants across the City. Meanwhile, the allocation for the New Basic Water and Sewer Services increased by R11.8 million to complete the project, and the Orange Farm Turnkey Project has also been allocated R128 million.
In October 2020, the City had approved an approximate operational budget of R61.3 billion for 2020/21 while approximately R7.3 billion capital budget was given the green light. However, in the 2020/21 Adjustment Budget, the revenue budget was reduced by R272.6 million and expenditure increased by R301.2 million. The net effect of the adjustments resulted in a surplus of R104.2 million before capital transfers and taxation – compared to the initially approved Budget’s surplus of R678.1 million.
MMC Matongo added that additional budget requests of up to R4.6 billion were received from the City’s departments and entities, however many of them could not be accommodated due to budget constraints. A significant amount of the Adjustment Budget also went to integrated human settlements with a housing allocation increase of R515.7 million.
“This is mainly due to a R325.9 million USDG roll-over of funds having been approved, as well as a R71 million housing emergency grant and a reallocation of R118.8 million to projects that are progressing faster. Some of the projects include the Dube Hostel Renewal Building Alterations, Fleurhof Mixed Development as well as the Lufhereng Mixed Development, the Alexandra Extension 52 and Zandspruit Extension 84, among others,” he said.
Also included under the housing allocations is the formalisation of informal settlements across the City, and the renewal of bulk infrastructure City wide increased by R14.3 million.
Furthermore, under housing, up to R24.7 million has been allocated for the preventative maintenance of facilities and the planned maintenance of retirement homes and flats.