Namibia: Windhoek Plans to Spend N$5,1b

THE Windhoek city council management committee has come up with a N$5,1 billion budget for the current financial year, almost equivalent to the national budget allocated to the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.

Although not yet approved by the minister of urban and rural develoment, the budget which was last month presented by Fillemon Hambuda, the chairperson of the management committee, might have a deficit of N$453 million.

This is due to non-cash expenses of depreciation and defined benefits of N$666 million having pushed the budget up, with depreciation of the city's assets topping the non-cash expenses at N$564 million.

Without non-cash expenses, the budget stands at N$4,9 billion - of which N$507 million is for capital projects and N$4,4 billion for operational expenditure.

Hambuda estimates revenue to be around N$4,6 billion for the year.

In his presentation, Hambuda conceded that the "council is not generating enough revenue from tariffs to cover its operating and capital expenses".

This is despite the council expecting around N$300 million from anticipated land sales and statutory funds of N$8 million for the year.

At least 58% of the N$4,4 billion operational budget (N$2,6 billion), will go to general expenses, while 35% (N$1,54 billion) goes to salaries, mainly of 1 935 permanent employees.

Hambuda indicated that the salary-related expenses will be analysed in the coming year to ensure that "our human resources capacity speaks to the resources required to execute the Strategy and Transformation Plan."

Repairs and maintenance will take up 5% and capital charges 1% and other expenses take up the remaining 1%.

Hambuda said over the past few years, the capital budget faced increasing demand for the provision and maintenance of basic services infrastructure, but there was no increase in the available resources.

"It has witnessed a diminishing revenue base, thereby contributing to an imbalance between demand for better and improved services and limited resources," he said.

For the past three financial years, only capital projects with secured funding were approved by the line ministry.

Hambuda highlighted that electricity infrastructure will take up N$174 million of the half-a-billion capital budget, followed by informal settlement upgrading which will take up N$104 million.

Housing construction and property acquisition will receive N$61 million and water and road infrastructure will get N$46 million.

With the fight for internet provision in the city, the councillors plan to spend N$20 million on information technology infrastructure.

The N$507 million capital budget will be funded in three ways; the city plans to channel N$204 million from its projected revenue. A grant of N$148 million is also expected from the central government.

According to Hambuda, the remaining N$155 million will be bank loans.

TARIFF HIKES

For the city to meet its 2021/2022 budget, some tariffs are expected to go up, pending approval from various regulators.

City residents should brace themselves for hikes on electricity, bus services, water, and refuse removals and solid waste charges.

The electricity tariffs will be amended once the regulator, (Electricity Control Board-ECB) pronounces itself on the city's proposal to increase electricity tariffs by 5%.

The water tariff adjustments are still under consideration and will be adjusted pending approval from NamWater.

A 5% tariff increase is proposed for refuse removals and solid waste management.

Individuals who use the city buses are expected to pay 7% and 6% more for smart card fares and cash fares, respectively, Hambuda revealed.

He also added that land delivery, especially in the informal settlement, targets to reach 5 000 pre-allocations by February 2024.

Also, included in the budget, is the construction of 100 affordable housing units at Goreangab Ext 4.

The current Strategic Plan that guided the city budget and plans comes to an end in 2022.

The municipality will start drafting a new Strategic and Transformation Plan this year, which will guide future budgetary allocations, especially the needs of informal settlements, said Hambuda.

He added that they are crafting a plan to make Windhoek financially sustainable.

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