A junior Minister at Local Government and Rural Development, Frans Solomon Van Der Weisthuizen has expressed worry that councils across the country are failing to collect revenue owed to them by their customers.
Addressing the Sowa Town Council full council meeting last week Weisthuizen said this cannot be acceptable looking at the ever increasing dependence on Central Government for financing council programmes.
“All districts owed money should develop urgent strategies to collect this government revenue in order that they can provide much needed service to the communities they serve,” he said.
He emphasized that it cannot be correct that councils continue to demand more money through delegation from the Minister’s office when revenue is not collected by the same councils. Van Weisthuizen said prudent financial management is critical and integral to the sustainability of council delivery systems.
“Let me challenge all of you to ensure that you collect all the revenue owed to you by March 2018. In future we might have to allocate revenue based on the efforts made by individual councils to collect revenue arrears or debts. What is painful is that some of the debts owed are owed by staff in your council and other government departments in the form of service fees,” he added.
Van Der Weisthuizen said today the economic situation dictates that government as a whole, including the local authorities should be prudent in financial management and also be proactive and creative in engaging their communities to assume greater responsibility for financing some activities in their localities. The assistant minister also bemoaned failure of government projects. He said although government spends huge sums of money on project consultants and supervisors, sadly it continues to receive reports of mammoth project delays; costing government millions of pula which could have been utilized elsewhere to support a needy Motswana.
He gave example of teacher’s houses at Ratsie Setlhako Primary School in Palapye(Central District) which were undertaken through the government Economic Stimulus Package(ESP) (2016/2017) and are still not complete. He said the Central District is still to award ESP 2(2017/2018). He urged the Sowa Town leadership to take keen interest in these issues and ensure projects are delivered on time.
“The Ministry is very much worried that despite the fact that we have put in place management structure and resourced them in the form of qualified engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and economists. Project management in our districts leaves a lot to be desired. The question is where are all these experts which have been trained and are paid by government at a high costs to the tax payer,” he asked.
The assistant minister further said that additionally councils engage consultants at costs who also fail to ensure that government gets the value for money on these projects. He challenged both the Executive, Finance and Performance Committees of Sowa Town Council to engage in an introspection on this issue to identify the root cause of the problem.
“The issue of poor project implementation; project delays, cost overruns and general workmanship which is very poor, is a major concern to government. I want to urge you to improve project management. Let us work together to ensure the quality of our projects is right to avoid losing millions in Pula as well as delays in service provision,” Van Westhuizen said.