It is with much excitement that I have accepted to be one of the experts on a panel involved with the project of proposing alternative municipal financing models for metropolitan cities in South Africa. The project is led by South African Cities Network (SACN) in partnership with the City of Tshwane.
The background of the project is described as follows by its originators:
”In a context of decentralisation coupled with rapid urbanisation which is characterised by growing levels of poverty and informality, metropolitan municipalities’ are increasingly concerned about their capacity to deliver on their expanding functions and demands. While on the one hand cities are increasingly focal and acknowledged as important engines of growth and development, they also find themselves under extreme financial pressure which jeopardizes their mission. And while there is legitimate pressure for cities to improve their own efficiencies and maximise their revenue generating capacity, it is also increasingly evident that the current metropolitan municipal financial model is inadequate and unsustainable, using a grant system intended to plug unplanned deficits as a crutch for a financing model that is itself increasingly deficient, and also requiring creative rethinking about the kinds of appropriate innovations that could place metros on a more sustainable path to delivering development for the present as well as the future.”
The first meeting of the expert panel took place at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Conference Center at the Como Lake in Italy during September 23 – 25. Among the participants were representatives from SALGA, the Financial and Fiscal Commission, the City of EThekwini, UN Habitat, FMDV, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and from the organisers: SACN and City of Tshwane. It was three days of intense work that laid a good foundation for the continuation of this worthwhile project.