BY PORTIA NKANI
Gaborone City Mayor – Kagiso Thutlwe has said the Council is in desperate need of over one billion pula to upgrade internal roads infrastructure in the capital.
This includes internal roads asphalt overlay on major roads within the City.
During the 2019/2020 financial year development budget totaling P17.03 billion, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development received the fifth largest share of the proposed development budget of P1.77 billion.
The Finance Minister, Kenneth Matambo, when delivering his 2019/20 budget speech said this budget will continue the implementation of social protection programmes and village infrastructure projects.
Over two-thirds of the development budget for the Ministry goes to Ipelegeng programme, with an allocation of P635 million. The Community Development project is allocated P570 million. The balance will fund ongoing programmes and projects, mainly the Primary School Backlog Eradication Programme, the Tutume Internal Roads and Bus rank, Gabane and Kang Infrastructure Development and Maintenance of Primary School Facilities.
The City Mayor says the budget is not enough to address the Ministry’s needs. Ipelegeng, which has received a large chunk of the budget under the Ministry, has not impressed Thutlwe. He said there is nothing special about the programme.
“For Gaborone City alone, we need over P1 billion to upgrade it into an appealing city. When you are given P20million, P50million, it leaves a lot to be desired. As far as the Ministry is concerned, they are given their budget with strict and serious instructions that they have to also reach out to the rural areas. Already there is no electricity and water in the city, How about in rural areas. We still have a lot to do for Gaborone alone,” said Thutlwe.
Thutlwe remains hopeful that one day the Public Private Partnerships law will be passed to assist in the development of this City.
“We have so many private sector companies that are willing to work with the City Council. They cannot work with the Council at the moment because we are having an elephant before us, and this can only be moved by the Finance Ministry. If it does not move this elephant, those coming after us will not be able to answer to the problem of the City.”
He said neither can the problem of the city be answered by the budget from the Local Government ministry. Amongst the initiatives that can help generate income, he said, are the tollgates, which in other countries like South Africa have proved to be viable.
Thutlwe agonised that the City Council had made a budget proposal of over P400million which falls far short of an instruction by the parent Ministry to cut it down by 5 percent.
“We are having trouble already because this budget will mostly go to our salaries, vehicles maintenance, amongst other things. As the GCC we are still trying. If we had effective PPPs we could be now running to the business community to play a role in helping us on upgrading our city.
With regards to the PPPs in his budget speech, Matambo indicated that the contribution of the private sector to the development of the domestic economy is still considered to be below its potential. In view of the critical role of the private sector in the envisioned transformation of the economy from the upper middle-income to high-income status, the government he said is committed to implement existing and new initiatives to improve the business environment during 2019/2020 and beyond. This will ensure that the private sector becomes the effective future engine of growth for the country.
The Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Policy and Implementation Framework was adopted in 2009, as an alternative means of financing public infrastructure projects to accelerate and improve infrastructure development, and create a conducive environment for stronger public and private sector partnerships.
Despite a slow start, Matambo said the implementation of the PPP has since picked up, with a number of projects so far identified and registered for implementation using the PPP approach. Among the major projects identified are; the Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Development, the Gaborone Waste Water Treatment, the Chobe-Zambezi Water Transfer Scheme and the Strategic Oil Reserve at Tshele Hill.
Responsible Ministries are currently undertaking feasibility studies of these projects in preparation for the procurement of private sector partners.
“Government will intensify the implementation of the PPP during the 2019/2020 financial year, as part of the consolidation of the private sector-led development model,” he told parliament and stakeholders who graced the budget speech occasion on Monday.
His ministry, as the coordinating agency for the implementation of PPP, is working closely with the respective ministries to provide guidance on the planning and procurement of services required to execute the projects.
In addition, the ministry has been undertaking capacity building for the implementation of the PPP projects throughout government, with more than 250 senior government officials having participated in training workshops since 2016.
The private sector has also been sensitised on the thr PPP funding model for implementation of government projects.
Meanwhile, unlike other councils around the country, which often return huge chunks of money to the state coffer at the end of each financial year, the GCC has already exhausted almost all its entire 2018/19 budget.
Thutlwe disclosed that, “as of last month (January), we are sitting at 90 percent plus on expenditure both on the grant and what we raised. We are spending well. We were given around P60million and we are only left with P5million, which by the end of March we should have exhausted it.”