The Francistown City Council (FCC) is still paddling through a challenge of unpaid debts to the sum of P18.2 million.
The Mayor of Francistown, Shadrack Nyeku, revealed during the full council meeting last week that despite the efforts of the council trying to collect the debts from the debtors, people continued to default the council. He indicated that the issue of the non-payment of these arrears has continued to be a concern.
“Our council is owed millions of Pulas on Rates, Service Levy and Building Material loans,” he said.
Nyeku added that rates, debt as at December 2008 stood at P33 million and the collection to date is P15.2million further leaving a balance of 18.2 million still unpaid.
He pointed out that for the council to improve its debt collection; they now decided to start new ways.
Some of the new strategies introduced are that the council will not issue building permits, planning permits before plot owners pay their arrears. He added that they will not allow any plot transfers before settlement of arrears is made by plot owners.
Nyeku also highlighted that the council members will be provided with a list of defaulters in different wards such that they can assist in sensitizing the plot holders about the importance of paying for the services provided and also to address the public the issue through kgotla meetings.
The Mayor further pointed out that the funds that are currently owed could be used to meet the recurrent expenditure obligations, sustain service provision and to supplement the revenue support grant from government. He added that, as FCC, they had been tasked by the Minister of Local Government, Lebonaamang Mokalalake, to collect debts from the public as much as possible in order to help council sustain itself as it was not allocated any funds.
“It is a step that we have to boldly take in order to collect money that is owed to council,” he said.
However, touching on other matters, the mayor went on to state that it is disappointing that the Turnkey Housing Scheme that was recently introduced to the public by council was underutilized. He revealed that Batswana seemed not to be interested in using the scheme hence it was introduced to facilitate more access to home ownership by low income members of the society.
“There has been no uptake to the scheme since its inception,” he said.
Nyeku highlighted that in their call for service delivery, they carried out a customer satisfaction survey which showed that their customers were not happy about the services FCC offers. He established that the poor service delivery needs serious measures to remedy the situation, adding that this is why there was an introduction of the toll free number to deal with public grievances.