The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is pleased to see that the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, made provision in this year’s budget for achieving the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP).

“South Africa’s economy needs to grow faster and more inclusively. We welcome the Minister’s commitment to infrastructure development, skills development and job creation. IMATU is also very pleased with the Minister’s assurance that the fight against corruption will be strengthened. IMATU furthermore agrees with the Minister when he said that social spending is not a substitute for job creation. Sustainable economic growth and development will take place when we start to effectively tackle the challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty,” stated IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

Over the next three years, R827 billion is planned to be spent by the fiscus and state-owned companies to build infrastructure, such as clinics, dams, water and electricity distribution networks, electrification of homes and sanitation schemes to name  but a few projects. IMATU is pleased to note that much of this spending will fall under the responsibility of Provinces and Municipalities.

“As shown from information collected by the 2011 Census, 62% of South Africans are now living in our towns and cities, indicating that the population of some municipalities has grown by over 50% between 2001 and 2011. In order for Local Government to provide excellent service delivery, both urban and rural municipalities must be equipped with the correct skills, resources and infrastructure to get the job done,” said Koen.

In his recent State of the Nation address, the President acknowledged that Apartheid spatial patterns still persist in South Africa’s towns and cities and Municipalities alone cannot deal with the challenges. Rather, a national integrated urban development framework must be created to assist municipalities to effectively manage rapid urbanisation.

In light of this commitment, IMATU is cautiously optimistic regarding the new formula for the local government equitable share that will be introduced in 2013/14. The formula recognises the need to better differentiate assistance to different municipalities, including those in rural areas, in a bid to address the spatial inequalities of the past.

IMATU has noted that a total of R85 billion is allocated for transfer to municipalities in 2013/14, increasing to R101 billion in 2015/16. “We are particularly pleased to see that allocations have been made for municipal water infrastructure, public transport and integrated city development. We hope that the challenges of appropriate skills transfers and the filling of vacancies will also be addressed with new enthusiasm this year,” said Koen.

“IMATU believes that with effective leadership, correctly channelled resources, the up-skilling of workers and the rooting out of corruption, Local Government can offer a sustainable service delivery model that will assist in the efficient collaboration between local, provincial and national tiers of Government,” concluded Koen.