R52.6 billion budget to move Joburg forward

Pretoria - The City of Johannesburg has tabled its 2015-2016 Budget which focuses on capital expenditure‚ entrepreneurship development, the green economy, housing and youth employment.

The annual budget of R52.6 billion was announced by City of Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance‚ Geoffrey Makhubo, on Tuesday.

This is the first time that any city budget in South Africa exceeds the R50 billion mark.

The budget, Makhubo said, is made up of R42.7 billion in operating expenditure and almost R10 billion for capital expenditure.

“This budget was prepared mindful of the tough economic environment. Growth in global economies continues to be constrained, marked by a slowdown in Europe and deceleration in China and emerging market economies. Emerging markets like South Africa are, therefore, faced with the risk of capital outflows as well as lower commodity prices,” he said.

The domestic economy also continues to be affected by electricity supply constraints, labour market disruptions, skills shortages, budget deficit and exchange rate risks to the economy.

Detailing the budget, Makhubo announced that the sustainable services cluster, which oversees and coordinates the bulk of the city’s service delivery obligations has been located R25.9 billion for the operating budget.

Environment and Infrastructure Services

Environment and infrastructure services (EISD) is allocated an operating budget of R234 million for the 2015/16 financial year and a multi-year capital allocation of R77.5 million.

EISD will take the leading policy role in the areas of biodiversity conservation; integrated waste management; investment in ecological infrastructure; the rehabilitation of the Princess Mine Dump; air quality; climate change and energy diversification including green energy initiatives.

Through these initiatives, Makhubo said the city intends to create a Johannesburg that protects its air, water and soil and manages its waste to build a better environments for future generations.

Housing allocation

The housing department was allocated an operating budget of R864 million in the 2015/16 financial year and a multi-year capital budget allocation of R2.7 billion.

This budget will be utilised for investment in bulk infrastructure, such as roads and storm-water management systems; to transform existing infrastructure in areas such as Kliptown, Diepsloot, Braamfischerville, Orange Farm, Dark City in Poortjie, Rabie Ridge, Eldorado and Princess.

This segment of the budget will also build new inclusive mixed-use settlements including South Hills; as well as hostel refurbishment and upgrades to transform the Orlando Women’s Hostel, Dube Hostel, and Jabulani Hostel, amongst others.

City Power

City Power is allocated an operating budget of R15.4 billion for 2015/16 and a multi-year capital budget of R4.6 billion.

Acknowledging the discomfort of load shedding and its impact on daily routine, Makhubo said it was important to be “vigilant in voluntarily managing demand in our homes and businesses in order to reduce the need to load shed for the common good”.

City Power will, among other things, use the money to roll out prepaid and smart meters that will not only protect the city’s revenue streams but will also mitigate the impact of load shedding through the load limiting capabilities of the smart meters.

It will also see the electrification of informal settlements. The city has set aside R200 million for the electrification of informal settlements in 2015/16 with a further R200 million set aside for 2016/17.

Health, Economic Development, Transport

The Health Department receives an operating budget of R743 million for 2015/16 and a three year capital budget of R315 million, with key projects funded to include primary health care, HIV and TB, women, maternal and reproductive health.

The operating budget for Economic Development Department amounts to R187 million in the 2015/16 financial year and R51 million for the three year capital budget.

The department is the main driver of economic development and transformation projects in the city and will use the budget to focus on projects including SMME and entrepreneurial development; trade promotion and development; the green economy technology hub; inner city renewal; the small business hub; and the construction of linear markets facility in Alexandra and Kopanong.

On transportation, the operating budget is R1.5 billion for the 2015/16 financial year and the three year capital budget allocation is R3.5 billion.

The budget will fund projects including Transit-Oriented Development Priority areas such as the Rea Vaya roll-out of Phase 1C from Parktown to Alexandra and eventually to Sandton.

In the past financial years the city has invested in completing initiatives aimed at improving streets, adding pedestrian and cyclist paths in various communities including Braamfontein, Brixton and Soweto.

These, according to Makhubo, will continue to be rolled out in other communities such as Orange Farm, Ivory Park, Auckland Park and Rosebank.

Youth development

The implementation designed to create employment opportunities, especially for the youth of the city are in full swing.

One of the highlights is the Vulindlel’ eJozi programme, through which the city will train more than 200 000 young people over the next 18 months and equip them with the skills to find employment or continue with further studies.

“Together with the private sector and a youth development agency we will provide the participants in the programme with literacy, numeracy and digital literacy training and then create opportunities based on their aptitudes and capabilities,” said Makhubo.

This will include formal employment, participation in public works and youth service programmes as well as contributing to the Jozi@Work initiative.

Another future-oriented programme is digital ambassadors which will train more than 3000 young people.

This project will then deploy them across the city where they will provide digital literacy training to members of the community.

Through Jozi@Work the City will also be allocating more than R3-billion towards projects for repairs and maintenance, contracted services and infrastructure projects “done by the people, not for them”.

“Through this we are promoting a ‘hand up’ culture; not a ‘hand out’ approach and we are effectively transforming Johannesburg model of basic service delivery to actively involve communities,” said Makhubo.

- SAnews.gov.za