The ANC majority in Kouga Council bulldozed the 2013/14 Budget through Council at a meeting held in Jeffreys Bay yesterday afternoon.
The budget was vehemently opposed by the Democratic Alliance who warned that tariff charges that include an increase of over 60% in bulk electricity user demand charges, and 13% increases in property taxes, sewage and water charges will simply lead to more Kouga residents being unable to pay their bills.
At the budget meeting, the ANC councillors also made their intention known to sell fixed property to the value of R50m. It was pointed out that this is the wrong move at the present time due to the slump in the property market, but to no avail.
In compiling this skewed one-sided budget, the ANC completely ignored processes prescribed in Municipal legislation such as electing a Budget Steering Committee – such a committee which never met and thus played no role in drafting of the budget.
The Municipal Budget and Reporting Regulations states that the Mayor must establish a Budget Steering Committee to provide technical assistance in the compilation of a budget. Similarly, the Kouga Portfolio Committee for Finance NEVER met to discuss and partake in drafting the budget. Also the legal obligation to engage public participation in the budget was questionable – e.g. the Jeffreys Bay community meeting ended in chaos.
The budget was described by the DA as being political suicide for the ANC in the Kouga Municipality, as in addition to approving tariff increases far in excess of the current inflation rate, there was no provision made in the budget for the payment of over R 100 million in outstanding creditors.
The stark reality is that the budget was simply a “copy and paste” job from last year’s budget and the economic woes of the Kouga will continue unabated.
Despite inputs from resident associations and from the DA that the Kouga Municipality adopts a zero based budget approach, the ANC led council simply used their majority to ram the budget through council.
The Executive Mayor, Mr. Booi Koerat even made a bizarre statement that the 13% rates increase was actually only 4% as there was a 9% increase in last year’s budget!
This led to the DA calling for a short caucus and upon their return to the Council Chambers; a motion of exigency was tabled by the DA minority.
In their motion, the DA called for a vote of no confidence in Mayor Koerat and that the budget process be set aside. However, the ANC refused to debate the motion, claiming that what had happened in Oudshoorn will never happen in the Kouga Municipality.
This was in reference to a Council meeting in Oudshoorn last week, where 5 ANC Councillors voted with the DA in a motion of no confidence in the Mayor of Oudshoorn.
Residents of Kouga are facing tough times ahead.
The DA is compelled to report these breaches of legislation and the resulting appalling Kouga budget to the Auditor General, NERSA, National Treasury and the National Minister for COGTA.
Tags: kouga budget 2013/14