The ANC has warned that the DA-led City would not be able to fully spend its capital budget and the Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG) again this year, but instead were splurging on unplanned projects to curry favour with voters.
This includes clean-up projects, installing CCTV cameras at various public transport interchanges and the upgrading of recreational public parks and libraries. Unimpressed opposition parties have accused the council of “fiscal dumping”, and facing the risk of an audit with “material findings”.
“The City will underspend on its capital budget – already it’s sitting with R1 billion of the USDG which it has not spent.
“It couldn’t spend the money over the last nine months – it won’t be able to do so in the next two months – before the financial year-end,” ANC leader in the council Xolani Sotashe said.
He said ratepayers should brace themselves for more budget roll-overs, and an underspend of more than the 27% they clocked up last year.
The African Christian Democratic Party’s Grant Haskin said the City would not meet its targets, and projects that would be affected included human settlements and water and sanitation.
“I don’t believe they will meet the targets. They don’t take a long-term view and come up with implementation plans to (meet) targets. For the first time in many years, they were able in the last financial year to meet the housing target, but I doubt they will this year,” Haskin said.
He also said another area of concern was the desalination plants project, which some said had come to a standstill. “Instead of ensuring the sustainability of the water augmentation projects to avoid another water crisis, they have been spending money on projects that will make the DA look impressive but are not a priority,” Haskin said.
The EFF said it was unhappy with the way the budget was spent as there was no “visible impact” on townships and informal settlements. EFF councillor Nosipho Makamba-Botya said while project plans and associated costs looked good on paper, “spending was skewed in favour of a particular race”.
While the City acknowledged that some money from the USDG was rolled over in the financial years from 2011 to 2018, “as the law allows”, it denied that the amount was R2bn but a figure of R220.3 million.