Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has hauled her mayoral committee and executive directors over the coals for failing to spend 40.5% of the City’s capital budget, especially given the leadership team asking Cape Town residents to pay a mammoth 26.9% more for water.
“In particular, gauging from the public discontent in response to the proposed 26.9% increase in the water tariff in response to our need for increased income, it is going to reflect very poorly that the water, waste and informal settlements directorate has not been able to spend the funds we already have.
“If we continue this trajectory, we will only spend 75% of Capex (capital expenditure), compared to the 92% spend achieved last year,” De Lille said in a scathing letter to the mayoral committee.
The Cape Argus has seen a copy of the letter, dated April 12.
De Lille said the major projects behind schedule account for R3.24billion of the total R7.85bn capital budget and have an average 67% of their budgets unassigned.
“As of April 2, the projects reflected high volumes (above R10million) and percentages (above 30% of the current budget allocation) of unassigned budget and account for 30% of the 40.5% of the budget that is currently unassigned,” she said.
“Urgent action is required,” De Lille said in bold lettering.
She said that if the new water programme is excluded from the portfolio measurement, the current actual spend is 47.3%.
She hammered the water programme where multiple projects are behind schedule. “There is further concern that there are multiple projects within the new water programme that do not reflect sufficient commitments or actuals to date, which clearly indicates to me that these budgets are in jeopardy of not being spent at this time in the fiscal year,” she said.
De Lille said 40.5% of the capital budget is still unassigned, meaning only 59.5% of the capital budget has been spent or committed.
“The current actual cumulative spend as at April 2 was 39.9% because of the underspend on the new water programme, in comparison with 53.1% for the same time during the 2016/17 financial year. This depicts a very poor current performance of the actual expenditure and commitments of the Capex portfolio for the current 2017/18 financial year,” she said.
De Lille said the City relies on each person on the directorate to perform optimally.
“It is expected that you will immediately address the situation and that further discussions will not be required,” she said, offering her help to directors.
The City’s R49bn budget proposes a 26.9% increase for water and sanitation tariffs. This is to make up for the drop in water sales as residents continue saving water.
Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water, waste and energy, did not respond to queries sent to her.
Limberg’s department has more than 30 projects that range from water and sanitation to energy and have poor spending levels. Some of these projects have spending targets of as little as 31%.
Limberg would only say: “I will be able to give you a response with the latest spend for the directorate later. But generally, utilities have spent more than 90% of the budget every previous financial year and have a good performance record.”