The mayor of Francistown, Sylvia Muzila, has complained that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development(MLGRD) under which councils fall, was given only 14.2 percent of the total budget.
This is mainly to cater for the provision of Revenue Support Grants to Urban and District Councils, maintenance of existing infrastructure, provision of food supplies and the Old Age Pension Scheme. She said the amount allocated to MLGRD is very little considering that it has to be shared by the 16 districts around the country. “The city’s budgetary allocation for the years 2015/16, 2016/17 was P186 627 550 and P183 987 390 respectively. This is supposed to be increasing due to inflation but the trend shows a declining budget,” she said adding that, one of the city’s challenges remains its inability to collect revenue. “We really need to put this issue at the top of our priority list because we are not able to get the budget we want from our Ministry,” advised Muzila who added that, non-collection of revenue impacts very much on their service delivery.
The mayor noted that, for the past two and a half years that she has been in office, the major part of the recurrent budget has been running expenses of the council, especially in the form of personnel emoluments. “It was characterised by some cuts which made it even more difficult to reach our targets. This has been a serious impediment to service provision as it has been very difficult to work with this tight budget. She revealed that the 2017/2018 budget is being revised from P240 742 510 to P207 127 130 which constitutes a 13 percent cut of the original budget. “Despite the little resources availed to us, we have endeavoured to do as much as possible to develop the city. Some of the notable projects implemented through this tight budget are major maintenance at schools such as Pelotswaana, Moremogolo, Mahube and Nyangabgwe primary schools,” revealed Muzila. She added that, over and above that, Francistown City Council (FCC) has put a car park shelter at the civic centre as well as re-roof the Supplies and Fire facilities.
Muzila also told the Full Council Session that council has also done road edge repairs as well as construct storm water drainages in China town, Ikhutseng, light industrial and upgrade Marang culvert which activity is currently ongoing. “With this kind of budget, Honourable Councillors, we need to come up with ways by which we can develop our city without necessarily relying on government funds,” said Muzila.
The mayor told the session that the Urban Development Plan 4(UDP) is now in its final stages of preparations. She explained that, from the Urban Development Plan feedback she attended with the rest of the councillors, they were briefed that some of the major projects that will be undertaken during this coming six-year plan period include the Aerodrome-Gerald link road planned to start within the 2017/18 budget period, the new Francistown district hospital and Psychiatric department anticipated to start during 2019/20, the Tatitown customary court Type 2, the Francistown stadium roofing and the Primary School Backlog Eradication.
“I must highlight, ladies and gentlemen, that I regret that some of the projects tha we expected to see included in our UDP4 have not been approved. This is not enough considering that this is the second city in the country and that some of the unapproved projects were a priority of the community,” said Muzila who called upon her council to put more effort in unlocking investment opportunities and intensifying issues of employment creation in Francistown and making that a development priority.