Enhancing financial compliance through participatory budgeting: a case study of Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality
Bungane, Linda Louisa
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Compliance within the areas of financial management legislation and division of revenue for improved service delivery has to always speak to each other according to the integrated Development Plan (IDP), the overall local government legislation and the Constitution. There Is a relationship between the citizens, public revenue and officials, as well as politicians that act as 'messengers,' who interface with both the citizens and the municipalities. For the municipality to be functional, available resources must be used optimally and for the benefit of the citizens at large. This is arguably not the case in practice although there are policies, procedures and legislation in place to ensure that such measures are implemented. There are always loopholes and challenges that hinder effective implementation due to ignorance, inadequate control measures and non-compliance in the management of public resources. Non-compliance has been prevalent in the public sector, and local government is no exception, as some officials entrusted with compliance are able to manipulate the systems in place and engage In corrupt practices. It follows then that inconsistency in legislative compliance becomes not only a problem in municipal financial management, but becomes expansive in other avenues and legislation. The study will focus on local government financial management and finding a synergy between such management and division of revenue. The Inadequacy in compliance may be as a result of the varying challenges that are faced at local government level, due to size, location and different categories of municipalities; thus the different priorities of citizens they render services to. The size and location of the municipality then tends to influence the nature of community needs. The study wlll look at interventions sought to regulate and rationalise overall financial management at local government level, as well as the appreciation of the varying nature of municipalities in the current dispensation. The study takes three phases; The fi rst phase covers the background of public sector prior to the democratic dispensation, the reform period after the democratic elections. The phase then delves on development of local government and restructuring and amalgamation of metropolitan municipalities. The history of the NMBMM from . 2000 when it was amalgamated from three different municipalities to Port Elizabeth, Despatch and Uitenhage is also looked at. The consequences as a result of the amalgamation affecting both the community of the metro as well as the challenges within the municipality that affect the employees also receive attention. The ruling of the ANC for the past two decades since the democracy, until it was taken over by the current coalition leadership will receive attention. The study then looks at Initiatives by the municipality that benefit the community, particularly a pro poor budget as well as community participation Initiatives. The general undertaking of community participation is explored with all the legislation pertaining to community participation being visited. Community participation is in no way questioned as it is legislated to ensure that the community gets involved in the affairs of its municipality. The point that becomes the issue is the extent to which such participation is allowed and the varying interpretations of community participation as they lie solely at the discretion of individual municipalities. This part of the study unpacks a loophole that gives rise to lack of clarity in the extent of community participation. Based on this, the study identifies a research methodology that initially could take a mixed method approach due to the fact that interviews can be carried out from as many community members and municipal officials as Is possible. Also the study is derivable from all legislation pertaining to local government. However the study does not intend to unpack the quantity measured to establish the concept of community participation. The study aims at the quality of knowledge and experiences from the community based on direct Interviews with the community as well as the municipal officials in so far as their analysis and interpretation of community pa rtici patio n. Due to the nature of the study being mainly on analysing and enhancing legislation, the bulk of the information is merely through desktop and internal policies that are structured at the NMBMM. The study analyses these documents and their applicability as well as effectiveness. A third stage of the study is highlighting the gap unpacked through desktop Information gathered and embarks on the possibility to first design a policy that details the extent of community participation in general for the NMBMM. The policy must be concise and give a full disclosure of such an extent. The public participation policy does exist at the NMBMM, however the extent of such participation needs to be revisited. The reason for this is because there seems to be a blur between public participation and consultation at the NMBMM. The second policy that becomes quite essential and shapes up this study, is the policy on participatory budgeting. The study then completes the three areas of research by deducing the work from the general public participation concept to the two issues, that of detailing the extent of participation such that there are no ambiguous areas in terms of such participation. The second issue is to offer proposals and recommendations for the NMBMM to embark on a comparative study of participatory budgeting in order to design its own policy on participatory budgeting. The study is carried out in a very unstable political environment and many changes are implemented throughout the study.