The Francistown City Council (FCC) Finance Committee Chairperson James Kgalajwe, who is also a specially elected councillor, is worried that the second city is currently facing development challenges due to financial constraints.
Presenting the council budget during a Special Full Council meeting on Friday last week, Kgalajwe said the current budget was not enough to cater for all needs of the people of Francistown.
“This is due to the unfavourable economic conditions nationally, major infrastructural requirements in need of maintenance and upgrade, backlog due to limited resources, an ever-raising number of welfare cases that need attention and major attention to council vehicles in terms of maintenance and usage.
There is also a high level of debt to council of rates and service levy and other revenue.
Kgalajwe had indicated in the budget presentation that for the 2017/2018 financial year the approved budget for Francistown City Council is P183 987 390 by government against the proposed budget of P240 742 510. He added that the tentative budget stands at P207 127 510.
Kgalajwe also revealed that the proposed reduction stands at P33 615 380.
He, however, recommended that there was need to solicit alternatives to close the funding gap, expand sources of revenue, improve on the collection council debts and provide increased access to payment points by the community and debtors.
Kgalajwe added that there was need for improved collaboration and cooperation by all relevant stakeholders being staff, councillors, the community as well as business partners.
“There is also need for timely adherence to service delivery milestones and timeliness, prudent financial management and controls.
Responding to the budget presentation, one of the councillors, Cornelius Gopolang of Moselewapula ward in Gerald Estates, said that it was high time that the city council raised its own funds rather than depend on the Revenue Support Grant from government.
“We need to devise a way in which we can raise money for the city council rather than depend on funding from the ministry. Since my tenor here as a councillor I have realised that we often talk about spending and not generating money,” he said.
Another councillor, Lesego Kwambala, echoed the same sentiments. He said that it was high time that the city council hosted fundraising events to increase its revenue. He said the city council should take advantage of the new Francistown Stadium and hold events to raise funds and supplement its ailing budget.
“We can hold fundraising initiatives such as Mayor’s balls where we can sell tickets and also host such events as fundraising dinners. Dependency on government will not take us anywhere,” he said.
The councillors also raised concern over failure by council to collect money in the form of rates and service levy from the community. They said such failure to pay should be blamed on the city council as there is poor service at their Revenue Office.
Specially elected councillor Tuelo Zazambi emphasised that a lot of people are willing to come forward and pay but the points of payment are not favourable as the well as the service provided
“We perhaps need to devise new strategies of debt collection. We should invest in Information Technology Infrastructure to make payment easy for our clients. That would bring in a lot of difference. We need to make access of payment favourable to our communities,” he advised.
Monarch councillor Godfrey Kaelo also said that it was clear that people were willing to pay, but the revenue office at the city council was making it difficult for them to do so. He said the service of the collection point at the revenue offices was bad.
“A lot of people, believe me, are willing to pay but the problem is that the service at the Revenue Office is bad,” he said.
Francistown City Council is owed millions of Pula in the form of service levy and rates.
In conclusion all the councillors agreed that the city council needs to devise fundraising strategies, be prudent in spending and exercise cost saving measures.