Collection of arrears has improved significantly at the Gaborone City Council (GCC) in the current financial year despite a tight budget and defaults, city Mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa has told a full council meeting.
Rates arrears stood at P81 million, representing 80 percent of total arrears. Nkaigwa attributed the improved collection to the involvement of private attorneys and partnership with First National Bank of Botswana. “Collections were P28 million represented by in-house collection,” said Nkaigwa who is currently fending off calls to resign from his councillors over allegations of corruption.
He said private attorneys engaged by GCC collected P10 million in the period under review, while FNB collected in excess of P18 million. GCC is struggling to control stray animals, maintain public roads, street and traffic lights amid a budget that was slashed from an ambitious P226 million to P200 million. However, due to improved debt collection, GCC used “revenue from own source” of P103 million to boost its bottom line. At P303 million Nkaigwa said the revenue is a slight improvement of 19 percent when compared to previous financial year.
“For the first quarter, the Council has already received Revenue Support Grant of P43 million plus revenue from own source of P30 million.” He said expenditure for the same period stands at P57 million. He encouraged members of the public to continue paying arrears and said services have been extended to include SHHA offices in all wards to access their rates bills and payments. Online facilities are also available including SMS through First National Bank.
He decried lack of commitment by defaulters who do not show up to pay their rates, saying part of the reason is that some have either changed addresses or relocated outside the country. The Mayor added that budget for Ipelegeng, President Ian Khama’s social safety net for the unemployed, had been increased to P20 million in the period under review following an increase in beneficiaries allowance and sustenance fee to P30 and P7 respectively. Critics of Ipelegeng, which benefits over 55 000 Batswana throughout the country say the scheme is unsustainable.