City budget an insult

Janine Myburgh, president, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the City of Cape Town’s decision to drastically reduce the proposed increases in water tariffs in the draft budget, but believes the City can do even better.

According to a statement by the deputy mayor Ian Nielson, the overall increase in water tariffs has been reduced from 26.9% to 19.9% after complaints in a record 40 000 “comments” on the budget from the public.

What we cannot understand is how the City could ever have contemplated imposing these tariff increases on a population that has done an incredible job in saving water and investing in water-saving equipment, grey water systems and rainwater tanks to ensure future savings. I think this shows that both officials and councillors are out of touch with the paying public. The draft budget proposed a 55.16% increase in the tariffs for people using less than 6 kl (six cubic metres) of water a month. This has now been reduced to 10.1%.

If the City can do this now, why did it not do so in the draft budget?

We can only speculate that they did not try hard enough and that is a shocking indictment on both officials and councillors. They are simply too focused on extracting revenue from the public rather than reducing their own costs as the private sector has to do in order to survive.

I am sure there were many other savings that can be realised if officials and councillors put their minds to the job instead of playing politics.

The place to start is those 17% pay increases for top management that will take the remuneration packages of directors to a staggering R3.2 million a year. Start at the top and set an example.

It is ludicrous to pay salaries like this to the people who should have been writing reports to the council on the need to recycle water and make contingency plans for a drought that developed over three years. Instead we had panic and last minute attempts to drill for water and desalinate sea water. All the tenderers know that the City is desperate so the prices will come in very high.

We are going to pay for poor planning and bad management.

Sandra Dickson, Brackenfell

On behalf of 40 000 dearcapetown and the 11 000 Stop Cape Town objectors, if the first budget was Patricia de Lille’s, the adjusted one is (acting mayor at the time) Ian Neilson’s.

Again the City thinks consumers would just look at the cosmetic changes. The latest changes make the budget go from the ludicrous to plain unacceptable.

These adjustments proposed by Mr Neilson, are an insult to the intelligence of the people of Cape Town.

The budget shows an adjustment in water and rates increases. No mention is made of the electricity increases.

There is no change to the levies: original increases: for: 6KL water: R157.50 + 55% plus R56 levy = 90.56%.

New proposed increases: for 6KL water: R157.50 + 10.1% plus R56 levy= 45.55%.

This was achieved by cutting the capital budget, thus reducing the interest to be paid by us on the money the City plans to borrow.

To begin with, in the proposed draft budget, the capital budget was grossly inflated.

The interest on these loans is paid by the public as reflected in the operational budget.

By borrowing less as shown in the adjusted budget, the City could halve the tariff increases due to the decrease in interest to be paid on the excessive borrowing.

There is no sign of the City reducing its own expenditure on items such as the R6 billion to be spent on contracted services or salaries.

Nor does Mr Neilson make any mention of the “typo” or “incorrectly populated table” containing the 17% increase for top management. Was it corrected?

Does Mr Neilson really expect the public to be satisfied with a three-page media statement after the draft budget was found to be riddled with errors?

We, the public, demand the entire budget be republished and put to public comment.