Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Gaborone City Council finances in a mess

As private contractors went jobless in the third quarter of 2011/12, the Gaborone City Council retained P6 million that would otherwise have been used to pay for the services of the former. The money will instead be used to buy refuse compactors. The Council was also able to save P40 000 that would otherwise have been spent on its abattoir which remains closed for renovation. However, from that same abattoir, the Council lost P316 800 which it would have earned had it been operational.

The money that should have been used at the abattoir will instead be used to host a community seminar for the city’s ward development committees. Money left over from the purchase of small tools and plants vote will be transferred to finance a swimming course for fire fighters. Likewise, some P100 000 of the virement from another vote will be used to buy plants for the Nelson Mandela road.

Collecting revenue remains a serious challenge for the Council. It had estimated to make P6 million from the interest on rate arrears but fell short by P3.3 million; had hoped to make P4.7 million interest on its investments but managed only P42 000; made only PP228 000 from sanitation fees when it had made projections for P3.7 million; and, had a shortfall of P944 000 for SHHA service levies and P2.7 million for staff housing rent and P1.3 for trade licences. For the most part, GCC’s parking lots are used communally at no charge to motorists but there are a few that have been reserved for private use. In the period reporting, the Council had projected earnings of P447 920 from parking fees but got only P3300. The health-related items where the Council earned more income than it had estimated will be cause of grave concern. In the ‘more than estimate’ column, the entry for clinics is P568 000 while cemeteries brought in P28 345. The City Council itself has to shoulder blame for not collecting the money it is owed. Documents in Sunday Standard’s possession show that there was delay in rates billing and that had that been done on time, some P130 000 that will now be used to purchase a heavy-duty printer for the recording office would have been used to institute legal proceedings against defaulters.

The Council also faced insurmountable challenges in carrying out its work programme as reflected by its expenditure. It had planned to spend P10.1 million on the maintenance of grounds and buildings but only spent P622 939; P5.5 million was to go towards the repair of its fleet but the figure only went as high as P2.8 million; and, P6.2 million was to be spent on maintaining streets but actual expenditure was P2.7 million less than the estimate. No trips will be undertaken for the remainder of this financial year, which ends on March 31.

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