Authorities at Mzuzu City Council (MCC) have admitted facing challenges in raising enough revenue from one of their reform areas—city rates.
As a result, the council fails to raise just half of the targeted amount and end up failing to pay salaries for its employees and other services.
For instance, the council’s director of planning and development Alexander Chirambo said they are supposed to collect K600 million every financial year from city rates, but last year, they only collected K300 million.
He said this on Tuesday in Mzuzu on the sidelines of a Public Sector Reforms Implementation Conference for local government councils in the Northern Region.
He said MCC also loses about K500 000 every month to illegal vending, yet it spends K280 000 in paying police officers to chase vendors who illegally ply their trade.
Essentially, the city loses more on illegal vending than imagined. He said these challenges force the council fail to pay its workers, but also services like street lights which are billed at K2.8 million every month.
Said Chirambo: “We have put up street lights, but because of high defaulting of city rates, we are unable to keep the city lit, because for us to do that in a month, we are supposed to spend K2.8 million.
“Vendors are also failing to ply their trade in designated areas, and it is a hazard, especially for those trading along the M1 road. Every month, we lose around K500 000 for not collecting taxes from these vendors, yet we pay the police about K280 000 every month to chase these vendors from the streets.”
He has encouraged property owners in the city to pay rates to the city so that development flourishes.
Seodi White, chief director for Public Sector Reforms Unit, which under the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC), said many councils are embracing the reforms agenda, a development she said will change things for the better.
But she noted that some councils are still lagging on the reforms process, urging them to utilise such meetings to learn from their counterparts.
Over the past three weeks, the Public Sector Reforms Unit has been meeting council officials to appreciate the reforms they are undertaking and whether they are bearing the desired results.