NATIONAL NEWS - New municipal cost containment regulations for municipalities will come into effect on 1 July.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma have jointly introduced stringent cost-containment regulations for local governments.
The intervention, the department said, is in line with government's policy to implement cost saving measures across all three spheres of government to assist in re-prioritising expenditure and free up resources that can be better targeted towards service delivery. The cost containment measures are also intended to eliminate wastage of public resources on non-service delivery items.
National Treasury says the regulations, published on 7 June are aimed at ensuring that the resources of municipalities and municipal entities are used effectively, efficiently and economically.
Local government politicians and officials have been warned should they fail to implement or comply with the new regulations they will be held liable for committing financial misconduct or financial offences, which may be declared criminal offences. The detailed regulations on the purchase price of cars for political office bearers, the costs containment rules on consultants, credit cards, travel expenses, catering, and newspaper subscriptions were formally gazetted on Friday after more than a year in draft form.
The Municipal Cost Containment Regulations 2019 will be in force until replaced. As there are no provisions for increases in line with inflation, it will curtail the ability of municipalities to splurge on cars and entertainment, where limits are set in hard rand values.
Notable rules include:
- limits on the use of consultants, whose work must be closely monitored;
- limits on international travel for "critical" meetings and events only, and then only for officials directly involved in the subject matter;
- officials must use public transport when travelling, unless hiring a car will be cheaper;
- no overnight accommodation for any travel less than 250 kilometres away;
- no official credit cards;
- no catering without written permission for meetings attended only by municipal employees;
- R2 000 per year limit on entertainment allowances for officials;
- limited spending on farewell functions, and then only for officials who have either been with the municipality for at least 10 years or who are retiring due to ill health;
- newspaper subscriptions must be allowed to lapse, and may only be renewed if no electronic subscriptions are available and the publication is required for "professional purposes".
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