Steve Tshwete Municipality moving ahead with economic development

According to executive mayor, Cllr Bagudi Tolo, “We are the home of the largest stainless steel factory in the country and many coal mines and three Eskom power stations. For many years we have been relying on exporting our bulk raw material to other places and countries.

There is an initiative to expand the current steel incubator, Mpumalanga Stainless Initiative, to develop more businesses in the fabrication of steel and metal to produce fi nished products. As a municipality, we have made land available for this initiative.

“The expanded programme will include a welding facility and an artisan development programme. We will continue to maintain a healthy relationship with business so that we can broaden the economic activities to include other sectors that have been neglected before, like tourism and agriculture,” he said.

Tolo further referred to their aged infrastructure, into which he said they will make key investments by upgrading electricity, water and sanitation infrastructure so it can cope with the demands of their investors. “We will take advantage of the Maputo Development Corridor as more industries such as motor workshops, hotels, overnight bulk carriers and stopping-over places will be required. We will also upgrade our sports facilities, parks and recreation and other community amenities to make it easier to get to our municipality, whether to visit, work or start a business.

“As a municipality, we have reviewed the Spatial Development Framework. We are currently busy developing precinct plans in order to revitalise our CBD. By bringing more people to live in the CBD, we will create the necessary commercial base to support the wonderful array of independent retailers, restaurants and service providers in our CBDs for decades to come,” he added.

Tolo says the municipality will soon be launching the clean and safe campaign, wherein they will install CCTV cameras in the streets and townships in order to increase their fi ght against crime. “As we enter our new fi nancial year, the country is faced with enormous economic challenges where VAT has increased by 1% after many years.

Prices of basic commodities, including fuel, have increased. It is economic turmoil because early this year the Optimum coal/Glencoe debacle propelled the municipality to take diffi cult and abrupt fi nancial decisions where we had to foot a bill of approximately R20 million to rescue the water supply situation for Kwazamokuhle and Hendrina residents, but the situation has normalised.

“Our Integrated Development Plan, as approved in June, was developed from consultative meetings with residents, business and community representatives, government departments and other stakeholders. The residents informed us of their concerns about affordable residential accommodation, the availability of potable water, electricity, basic sanitation and quality roads, as well as addressing the scourge of poverty, HIV and AIDS.

“The political priorities for the national and provincial spheres of government also supported the concerns.Substantial information from the process, as well as input from our communities, had significant bearing on the final product being presented here today. Like all other public institutions, the problem of limited resources versus the ever- increasing needs of society remains a challenge that always requires skillful consideration. The municipality has strived to utilise all its financial and administrative capacity to achieve its mandates on these priorities,” concluded Tolo.

Steve Tshwete Local Municipality 2018/2019 Medium Term Budget

Total budget for the 2018/2019 financial year – R1,9 billion – a balanced and fully funded budget Presented by executive mayor, Cllr Bagudi Tolo, who indicated: “This is a very tight budget aimed at ensuring that levels of revenue are maintained to ensure continuation of current basic service in line with the guidelines issued by the National Treasury in the 2018/2019 Budget Circular.”

This Medium Term Budget is linked to the IDP and indicates the direction the municipality is navigating to in achieving the following goals
• Provision of sustainable, accessible basic services to all
• Provision of a safe and healthy environment
• Promotion of economic growth and job creation
• Promotion of good governance, organisational development and sustainability.

The following constitute the key budget focus areas
• Cost reductions to ensure affordable tariffs
• Social support to those residents who cannot afford to pay for services
• Continuous infrastructure development to upgrade ageing networks, as well as the maintenance thereof
• Intensification of job creation activities through the implementation of capital projects, the expanded public works programme and the launch of the township economy strategy
• Good governance and clean administration;
• Continuous efforts to ensure high collection of debt.

The total budget is R1,9 billion and the breakdown is as follows
• Operational expenditure – R1,5 billion
• Capital projects – R374 million
• Infrastructure maintenance – R89 million
• Capital budget for renewal of existing infrastructure – R93 million.

The municipal allocation in terms of the equitable share increased by R23 million from R156 million to R179 million, which is used to provide relief to indigent households at approximately R12 million per month. Infrastructure grants amount to R65 million and transfers to build and enhance capacity in local government amounts to R2 million. Over the next three years the municipality plans to spend R1,1 billion on various capital programmes, as informed by the IDP.

The key capital expenditures among the various functions of the municipality for the 2018/2019 financial year are
• R59 million for roads and stormwater infrastructural development
• R77 million for electricity infrastructural development
• R24 million for sewerage purifi cation and reticulation
• R80 million for governance and administration
• R37 million for community facilities and public safety
• R44 million for water infrastructural development
• R24 million for refuse removal.

Tariff increases
In order to continue providing sustainable services, the municipality should be in a position to cover costs associated with the provision of services. In this regard, some cost drivers may necessitate increases above Consumer Price Index. It is on that basis that tariffs are reviewed in order to ensure sufficient cash is generated to remain focused on effective service delivery that is economical and equitable to all communities. Tariffs for services must be cost-effective. It was therefore necessary that additional revenue by means of proposed rates and tariffs of R80 million be sought to balance the budget.

The new tariff adjustments to fully recover costs are
• 6,1% average increase for sewerage
• 6,84% average increase for electricity. This will change in accordance with (NERSA) determinations.
• 6,3% average increase for refuse removal.
• 6,9% average increase for property rates.
• 9,4% average increase for water.

“There will always be challenges and our needs remain many, but our resources are unfortunately limited. As an ANC-led municipality, we remain committed to running a clean, accountable and effective administration,” concluded Tolo.

  AUTHOR
Mpumalanga News

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