Bud­get bal­anc­ing act must be ap­pre­ci­ated

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO OPINION -

When it comes to mu­nic­i­pal bud­gets, ex­pec­ta­tions will al­ways ex­ceed the monies avail­able.

This is a sim­ple state­ment of fact; the pie can only be cut into so many slices, and ev­ery sin­gle re­quest – how­ever valid – can­not be met.

Both the King Cetshwayo District and the City of uMh­lathuze pre­sented their Draft Bud­gets last week, and had the un­en­vi­able task of try­ing to please ev­ery­one, all this against the per­sis­tent back­ground of an ail­ing global and na­tional econ­omy.

This has meant a re­duc­tion in fund­ing from cen­tral govern­ment, re­quir­ing a clam­p­down on any waste­ful and un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture.

The drought has also proved ex­tremely costly, es­pe­cially for the District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, with water de­liv­ery of ne­ces­sity de­vi­at­ing funds from other projects.

Look­ing at it pos­i­tively, how­ever, the bud­gets have also been pre­pared in the con­text of re­newed drives to ‘sell’ the coun­try, prov­ince and re­gion to in­vestors, de­vel­op­ers and tourists.

Hope­fully this will spread more wealth in the near fu­ture.

At the out­set, let us all ac­knowl­edge that both mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have per­formed ex­cel­lently in re­cent au­dits and both have to date not been im­pli­cated in any dodgy deal­ings.

And again, both have made pro­vi­sion for all stake­hold­ers, es­pe­cially res­i­dents and ratepay­ers, to have in­put into the bud­gets, this via road­shows and pub­lic IDP meet­ings.

The process con­tin­ues, with pro­vi­sion made for scru­tiny of the bud­gets and ad­di­tional com­ment into the fi­nal prod­uct.

As far as the bud­get con­tents goes, the fo­cus con­tin­ues to be on bridg­ing the gap be­tween the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have nots’.

To its credit, the City of uMh­lathuze, in meet­ing its R3.5-bil­lion bud­get was able to re­strict ser­vice tar­iffs to 7%, mak­ing it af­ford­able for most of its peo­ple while still al­low­ing for in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance and de­vel­op­ment.

One trusts that res­i­dents, ratepay­ers and other stake­hold­ers will take more than a pass­ing in­ter­est in giv­ing in­put to the fi­nal prod­uct, and will at­tend the var­i­ous pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion meet­ings that will be an­nounced.

Af­ter all, it is not ‘their’ bud­get, it is ‘our’ bud­get, and we need to take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

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