Facilitating job creation and rolling out basic services to the poorest of the poor have been prioritised in Kouga Municipality’s budget for the new financial year, starting July.
The Kouga Council approved the municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and budget for the 2018/2019 at a meeting last week (31 May).
Delivering his first budget speech, Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the municipality had made great strides towards compiling a pro-poor budget.
“The biggest capital project for the new financial year is the multi-year upgrade of the Sea Vista Waste Water Treatment Plant, where we will be spending R18,5 million in 2018/2019. The upgrade will put in place the bulk infrastructure needed to unlock the building of new RDP houses in the area.”
He said funding had also been set aside to address the ongoing dependence of informal areas on the bucket system.
“More than 4 000 Kouga households still rely on buckets. This is unacceptable and we will be launching a multi-year programme in 2018/19 to eradicate the system, with R2,3-million being allocated for the first year of implementation.
“This fight will continue in the outer years of our budget and it will remain the number one priority for this municipality until every bucket is removed and burned, never to be used again.”
He said the municipality would also aim to eliminate illegal electricity connections over the next three years.
“Illegal electricity is an imminent and present danger to families and especially vulnerable children.
“We will, therefore, be spending R1-million of our own internal funding in the new financial year to install power at hot spots. A further R8,8-million in grant money will be used for the electrification of current and future housing projects.”
He said R500 000 had further been set aside for extra stand pipes and the upgrading of roads in informal areas while 700 wheelie bins had already been procured to improve refuse collection in these communities.
Other highlights for the new financial year include the development of two new cemetary cites at Loerie and Thornhill.
R4,3-million has also been budgeted for the upgrading and fencing of sports fields, with the emphasis on Wards 1 and 2.
Hendricks said the creation of jobs would be prioritised for the duration of his term.
“This municipality cannot be a job-giver but must be a job-driver. Our role is to foster a stable economic environment needed for external investment.
“As the local authority, we shall do so by maintaining sound financial practices, ensuring political stability and fostering a culture of good governance, with an over-arching adherence to the rule of law.”
He said the municipality had already approved building plans totalling more than R700-million in the first few months of 2018.
“Projects over the next three years will include a five-star hotel at the St Francis Links, a private hospital in Jeffreys Bay, a 250-unit holiday resort, three envisioned schools, a new head office for the Humansdorp Co-op and the Ocean View 1500 housing project. This is how we become job creators,” he said.