Spending on Nelson Mandela Bay’s beleaguered bus system is moving at a snail’s pace – raising fears the money could be taken back by the national Treasury if it is not spent by the end of the month.
Only 20.3% of the R93-million grant from Treasury was spent by the city by the end of April.
The grant was already rolled over from the last financial year as the metro failed to spend all the money at the time.
At a budget and treasury portfolio committee meeting yesterday, ANC councillor Bicks Ndoni said it would be “a serious sin” if the grants were not spent.
“Of serious concern is the IPTS grant. Once we don’t spend the money, we won’t get it again.
“If we make statements that we are going to make progress, Treasury takes that seriously.
“It would take miracles to spend all the money in time and at this point in time, I don’t see it happening,” Ndoni said.
He was echoed by ANC councillor Rory Riordan who said he hoped officials would be in trouble for not spending the money on the IPTS project.
“It would be a tragedy if we have to roll-over,” Riordan said.
Portfolio committee chairman, councillor Retief Odendaal, said it was important for heads of department to ensure there were plans in place before taking on infrastructure projects.
“I’m equally concerned about possibly losing the grant funding.
“But I know how much was wasted on IPTS in the past, and if there’s a standoff between budget and treasury [department] and the IPTS office, so be it, but not a cent will be wasted.
“Too much money has been lost under that project. But I believe we have made great strides with the IPTS project,” Odendaal said.
But Ndoni hit back, saying he never insinuated that the municipality must go around and throw parties and spend recklessly.
“We are saying that we must make every effort to spend the money but ensure value for money,” Ndoni said.
Meanwhile, councillors were furious the metro was still losing millions due to electricity losses.
A report from acting chief financial officer Barbara de Scande revealed that in April, electricity losses amounted to R16.15-million.
“It is clear that the current strategies and the use of a service provider had not yet delivered the required results to materially reduce electricity losses and to reduce the bulk purchases costs,” De Scande said.
DA councillor Andy Jordan insisted that before the service provider hired to reduce electricity losses – Amat Security and Cleaning Services – is paid for its last bout of work, there must be a guarantee that there has been a reduction in losses.
Acting electricity and energy head Peter Neilson said Amat had managed to reduce losses by about 0.7% instead of 1% a year over the last three years.