Local Government and Environmental Affairs Budget Vote celebrates excellence
The budget votes for the Western Cape Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning as well as biodiversity entity CapeNature was delivered in the legislature today.
The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, lauded the two departments and CapeNature for their clean audits and hard work in the past year and said funding constraints remain a growing concern.
“One of the major things impacting a provincial government, if not the single biggest issue, is funding. We all need more money. The small increases we see are not even enough to cover the costs of rising inflation. That means we must do even more with even less.”
The minister’s budgets highlighted the following:
- The department of Local Government gets an amount of R217.8 million for the 2016/2017 financial year.
- The department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning gets an amount of R550 million for the 2016/2017 financial year of which R261 million gets allocated to CapeNature.
- Over the past 12 months, 905 000 people were helped through the provincial Thusong Service Centres and around 24 000 citizens through the Thusong Mobiles which provide government services to mainly deep rural areas in the province.
- The ongoing implementation of the Western Cape Government’s Regional Socio-Economic Projects (RSEP) and the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) Programme. The main goal of the Programme is to partner with active citizens to plan and implement upgrading and safety projects in poor neighbourhoods. R38.5 million has been allocated for the Program this year.
- The continued expansion of the water resource management project, namely the Berg River Improvement Plan. Over 100 000 plants have been successfully cultivated, allowing for increased rehabilitation along riverbanks that have been cleared of invasive alien vegetation. The clearing of new areas inhabited by invasive alien plant species is underway, while previously cleared areas are being maintained. An amount of R9.9 million has been allocated for this crucial project that speaks to water security and which will be further developed and expanded to the Breede River catchment area.
Bredell said his department is intensifying plans to support municipalities in the crucial periods before and after the upcoming 2016 local government elections.
Two major initiatives in this regard are the following:
- Post elections the Department aims to provide, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, a fully accredited councillor training programme.
- Secondly a departmental helpdesk will be established to assist municipalities both before and after the 2016 elections. This desk will among others, provide legal support to municipalities for any legal challenges that may arise during the election period.
“Twenty-three out of thirty Western Cape municipalities got clean audits in the last financial year. The two departments and CapeNature got clean audits too. These achievements show a real commitment to clean and good governance driving to provide a capable state and a life of dignity for citizens of the Western Cape.”