COVID-19 pandemic has turned the global economy upside down, and the City of Johannesburg has not been an exception – MMC Matongo

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By: Sello Theletsane

JOHANNESBURG- After being given notice that the City of Johannesburg has until Friday, 10 July to pass the city’s budget after failing twice to do so, COJ sat on Thursday to approve the budget.

This came after the city failed twice last week to adopt the budget for a number of reasons that included legal and consultative considerations.

The City of Johannesburg Member of Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Finance Jolidee Matongo announce that the 2020/21 Budget amounts to approximately R68.1 Billion, which represent an operating budget of R60.6 Billion and a capital budget of R7.5 Billion – with a three-year capital budget appropriation of R22.6 requested.

According to CoJ, the tight budget dubbed “the government of local unity budget” prioritized tariffs relief  and rebates of pensioners amidst the impact of COVID-19 on Johannesburg residents. It also placed housing and continuation of water, electricity and road infrastructure at the top of its considerations – alongside basic service delivery.

“It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the global economy upside down, and the City of Johannesburg has not been an exception”, said MMC Matongo.

Matongo pointed out the ripple effects od an economic melt-down due to the pandemic, and subsequently national lockdown in South Africa, are already evident in the City’s revenue collection record from April to date.

“The tariff setting process, which was presented through a public participation engagement, took into consideration the likely impact the proposed tariff had on the local economy, businesses and residents”.

Furthermore, Matongo added: “There has been an increase in demand of limited and fast depleting resources where the Municipality needs to continue to set its tariffs to ensure that there is sufficient revenue for service delivery”.

“As the economic hub of the country, our tall order has been yo urgently explore ways in which we can offer relief to the people of Johannesburg”.

According to Matongo, the tarrifs contained in the budget demonstrates their commitment to inclusivity and accountability to the residents of Johannesburg.

Following public concerns and suggestions expressed by Johannesburg residents to the proposed tarrifs, the City has taken a decision to withdraw the proposed fixed charge of R200 for residential and R400 for commercial prepaid electricity.

“In addition to these tariffs relief interventions, the pensioners income qualifying criteria has increased by 6%. This mean a pensioner with a property value of below R2.5 million and an income of below R10 338 for the lower limit or below R17 719 for the upper limit, will receive a 100% rebate on their rates”

“This effectively mean that an increase number of pensioners will now qualify for the City’s rebates”, said Matongo.