Mayor on budget

Patricia de Lille, executive mayor, City of Cape Town

In tabling the City of Cape Town’s draft proposed budget three weeks ago, the City embarked on a very crucial process for Cape Town and its residents.

The draft budget is tabled by myself as the executive mayor in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). The process before the City’s draft budget is tabled is also stringent and set out in law. Too often people have incorrectly labelled it as “De Lille’s budget” or “the Mayor’s budget”. This is not true.

As the executive mayor I am not responsible for drawing up the City’s budget or setting the tariffs alone. These are set and proposed by the various departments such as water, electricity or sanitation department based on their needs for the new financial year. The finance department also proposes a budget for indigent relief to provide rebates to vulnerable residents in need of financial assistance. The proposed tariffs and the proposed social package of indigent relief follows a stringent process as outlined in the MFMA. Before the draft budget is tabled in council, it is presented to all sub-councils and caucuses who approve it to be tabled in council.

All mayoral com-
mittee members are also part of this process. When I presented the draft budget on March 28, I emphasised that we were now embarking on a crucial step where communities had to give their input because this is not the final budget. As part of the public participation, we are listening to the comments from the public. To give residents some context as to how the budget arrives at the public participation phase I would like to highlight how the process is guided by law. The draft budget planning phase starts in August each year. The MFMA prescribes that the budget must be informed by the five-year Integrated Development Plan (IDP) where we look at what we promised and items are added to the budget in line with the five-year plan which has also already been approved by council. As part of the process before a budget is tabled in council, each municipality also has a budget steering committee whose role is clearly defined in Section 4 of the Municipal Budget and Reporting Regulations.

The budget steer-
ing committee in-
cludes the mayor, the deputy mayor, all senior managers (executives directors and directors) as well as mayoral committee members. The budget steering committee’s responsibility is to provide political guidance and to en-
sure that the IDP is a priority and that the budget and IDP are aligned and relate directly to the service responsibilities of the municipality. The members of the budget committee will also ultimately be accountable for the implementation of the IDP and budget.

In November I wrote to all Mayco members and executive directors advising on how the budget should be structured to comply with the MFMA. I emphasised that the IDP must be the centre of our budget and that through the planning cycle, we must ensure that the budget is a manifestation of the IDP. I also stressed in this letter that we are facing a number of critical challenges such as the water crisis and asked that all directorates keep this front of mind as they conduct the planning process. I also communicated that this planning cycle was not business as usual. I specifically highlighted in this letter that with capital budget considerations, directorates must ensure that no projects are included in the capital budget where they have not yet been screened for implementation and tender-readiness.

In terms of the process, after directorates compile their draft budgets, the draft goes to sub-councils and political caucuses who approve it to council for tabling and public participation. We are now in the public participation phase for the draft budget as we are required by law to do during April and May.

The public has been invited to comment on the draft budget through various channels while focus group meetings are also taking place in the various sub-councils.

So far the majority of resistance has come from communities against the tariff increases with more than 17 000 objections via email against the tariffs. These objections are being analysed, captured and categorised. These comments will be taken into account during the revision and debate phase, which gives the mayor the opportunity to revise the tabled budget in response to inputs received and then to table the budget in council for consideration before June 1.

I want to remind the public that after public participation and after we have listened to you and your concerns, it is still possible to review the current proposed tariffs. The public comment period is open until Friday May 4. Finally, I want to a highlight our commitment to pro-poor spending where the draft budget proposes nearly R3billion to provide financial relief to those who need it most with a social package of rates and tariff rebates.

For example, residents are those who live in properties valued at R100 000 and below qualify for 100% rates and refuse removal rebates. These residents also receive 10 500 litres of free water and 7 350 litres of free sanitation. Where the gross monthly household income is R6 000 or below, these households can get various rebates and benefits.

I encourage poten-tial beneficiaries to con-
tact their ward coun-
cillor, visit their nearest sub-council or walk-in centre to find out if they qualify and apply.

Public comment on the draft budget must be submitted by 4.30pm tomorrow, Friday May 4. You can do so by filling out the online form at www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Have-your-say/Issues-open-for-public-comment/comment-on-the-draft-budget-for-2018-2019 or deliver your comments to the city manager, 5th Floor Podium, Civic Centre, 12 Hertzog Boulevard, in the city centre or post it to: The City Manager, 2018-2019 IDP/ Budget, Private Bag X9181, 8001, fax to 021 400 1332 or email budget.process2018@capeTown.gov.sa