Despite an annual budget increase of 11.3% for Francistown City Council, councilors have expressed concern over the budget saying that it is not enough to address the problems that are currently facing the city.
Francistown was allocated over P182 million for the year 2014 to 2015 as compared to P163 million during the previous financial year.
After a presentation by Raoboy Mpuang, Chairperson of the Finance Committee last Friday during a special full council meeting, councilors complained that the budget was way too small to meet the needs of Francistown residents.
Among other issues, Raoboy had┬áindicated in his presentation that the Department of Civic and Mechanical will get 30% share of the budget to address issues such as, poor water drainage systems, maintenance of street lights and purchase of refuse collection compactors. He also said 50% of the budget will be used for salaries and allowances. He further said that out of the total budget of ┬áover P182 million, the city council will receive P137 million as revenue support grant from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development while P44 million will be acquired through the service levy and rates.
Councilor for Satellite South, Buti Billy was the first to express his disappointment with the budget saying it will not address the development needs of Francistown.
“The reason why Francistown is lagging behind in terms of developments is that the budget for the city has always been insufficient. I┬ádo not see why we should celebrate that the budget has increased because the actual budget we have is P137 million and P44 million will be collected from the service levy and rates.┬á People are dragging their feet to pay the service levy because they feel that that they are not getting the services that they deserve. They are also protesting against paying rates because they feel that it is far too expensive to pay rates in Francistown than any other area in Botswana, “said Buti.
He further said that it was high time that the city council spent prudently because it operates on a shoe string budget.
Another councilor, Professor Tlou complained that for the past five years ┬áthe city council has never been allocated ┬áa budget that exceeds P200 million despite the fact that Francistown ┬áresidents live in abject poverty.
“For the past five years, Francistown has never got a budget exceeding P200million pula and this is very worrisome,” he said.
Itekeng Ward Councillor, Tabengwa Tabengwa said it was important for the city council to utilize its funds prudently given the fact that it is currently running its budget at a deficit.
“It is very important for us as the city councilors to utilize our funds prudently because we are currently operating at an ailing budget,” he said.
On a different note the City Clerk, Lebuile Israel expressed concern over arrears that are owed to the city council in the form of rates and service levy. He said it was high time they came with strategies to collect such arrears.
“From the P44 million that we are owed in terms of rates and service levy, we have only managed to collect P9 million and we seriously need to devise strategies to collect these arrears,” he said.