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Many of our municipalities cannot even stop our precious water reserves from being treated like glorified sewage works – often with fatal consequences for vulnerable rural infants – let alone manage their finances. Treasury is anxious that over 92% of municipalities need financial intervention – and has thrown R2.4 billion at them. The projects targeted, such as eliminating the bucket system and improving municipal water infrastructure are sensible, but incapacity and the lack of management skills remain critically under-addressed. More investment here and a leadership overhaul would probably unblock the service delivery pipes best – or at least stop them leaking toxically into the lives of the most vulnerable. A township near Barkly East a few years ago lost 78 babies, diarrhoea, because nobody bothered to check the supply dam – or fix the burst pipes. A quick look at the Green Drop Water Compliance provincial stats shows only Gauteng and the Western Cape are above 50% of water tests done versus tests required. The attendant table clearly shows the lack of concern most municipalities have for the quality of “treated” effluent they release back into local rivers and dams which are our primary drinking water sources. Together, our municipalities also owe Eskom more than R10 billion, so there’s another lightbulb that needs to come on. One outcome of the DA victories in key metros in the last election is that widespread fraud and gross mismanagement are now being uncovered. It’s a horrible official word, but it works here; capacitate (and clear out the toxic dead wood). – Chris Bateman
By Liesl Peyper
Cape Town – National Treasury is worried about the fact that 92% of municipalities in South Africa require intervention and says this is cause for concern.
Treasury highlighted this alarming fact in a presentation on the 2016 Division of Revenue Amendment Bill made to a joint meeting of members of Parliament who belong to Finance Portfolio Committees on Thursday.
National Treasury said because of this state of affairs at local government level it has decided to increase transfers to local governments, which will total more than R2.4bn in 2016/17.
National Treasury said the changes in the adjustment budgets to provinces and local governments are “relatively small” and include unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure, emergencies and the utilisation and rollover of unspent funds.
Treasury was however concerned that municipalities’ debt to Eskom and water boards was on the increase. In August this year, Eskom CEO Brian Molefe told Parliament that the outstanding debt from municipalities totalled R10.8bn.
Allocations made to local governments through National Treasury’s conditional grants framework include R50.6m for municipal water service infrastructure to support emergency water supplies in drought-affected communities.
An additional R72m will be allocated towards the bucket eradication programme. The Department of Water and Sanitation in June said it’s aiming to remove South Africa’s bucket toilet system within the next two financial years.
The amendment to the Division of Revenue Act makes provision for, among other things, a rollover of R275.7m for roads maintenance in KwaZulu-Natal. The funds were not transferred in the 2015/16 financial year, as the province failed to meet the requirements for the grant. “The province however has met the requirements subsequently,” National Treasury said.
An extra R212m will be added to provinces to provide relief for farmers who are affected by the ongoing drought, while R177.1m has gone towards the fixing of damaged school infrastructure.
National Treasury has also added R9m to the direct national health insurance (NHI) grant to improve health information systems in KZN and the Western Cape. Treasury said the allocation was part of the groundwork in the pilot phase of the NHI programme. – Fin24
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