Criticism of R30bn draft city budget

Cape Times
29 May 2012

THE DA-run council approved its draft R30 billion “pro-poor” budget yesterday, but opposition parties and some residents rejected it as pro-rich.

The ANC opposition charged that Cape Town’s affluent suburbs would benefit more than poor areas.

The Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA), a residents’ and ratepayers’ body, also rejected the budget, saying the city chose not to engage it over its written objections and concerns presented to its management.

Firing the first salvo at yesterday’s special council meeting to consider the budget, ANC leader in the council Tony Ehrenreich said the budget failed to address the needs of the city’s poor. For instance, the allocation for housing would benefit less than 1 percent of the city’s poor.

“We’re giving so little to our (poor) communities (instead of) ending apartheid’s legacies. There’s a huge imbalance between black and white schools. (The budget) endorses these inequalities,” he said.

But Mayor Patricia de Lille said the budget followed an extensive round of public participation that saw significant changes to the draft: “(This) is proof that this administration is pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-poor. It is this combination, of balancing delivering opportunities and historical redress, that makes Cape Town’s reconciliation a lasting one of universal social and economic development.”

De Lille said the total budget for 2012/2013 was R30.2 billion. Just over R24.3bn, or 80.4 percent was allocated to operating expenditure and R5.9bn to capital expenditure.

ANC councillor Jerimia Thuynsma said views on the budget of residents in Khayelitsha and greater Philippi were not canvassed: “Seventy percent of Mitchells Plain residents voted for the DA, but the budget has nothing for the Mitchells Plain community.”

ANC councillor Luvuyo Zondani said the city’s property rates policy would benefit “cronies” close to the DA.

Zondani said some crèches in Sea Point were benefiting from rates rebates but their counterparts in poorer areas were denied rebates on the grounds that they operated in residential areas.

He said some ratepayers’ associations were getting grants from the city because they were DA cronies.

GCTCA treasurer Henri Wolfaardt said the organisation objected to the proposed increases in utility tariffs “which exceed the inflation rate by a huge margin”.

African Christian Democratic Party councillor Ferlon Christians said some key stakeholders had objected to the surcharge on electricity and accused the city of ignoring their submissions.

Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for events, tourism and marketing, took a swipe at ANC councillors for criticising the budget but not providing alternatives.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said more metro police were needed in crime hotspots.



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