Lilongwe City Council (LCC) chief executive officer John Chome has said debtors owe the council K11 billion in city rates, a development which is affecting their operations.
Speaking On Thursday when he, alongside councillors Mayor Juliana Kaduya and some directors, met President Lazarus Chakwera at Kamuzu Palace to appraise him on the council’s plans and challenges to develop Lilongwe into a modern city, Chome said the debt is one of the factors hampering the council’s operations.
He said the council intends to implement reforms and that it has since developed a strategic plan in line with the Tonse administration’s development agenda.
Said Chome: “Your Excellency, we have been following your speeches on urban development and we have formulated a city transformation plan. We are committed to implement reforms. Let me say something on key financial areas. 90 percent of revenue is self-generated but the issue is that K11 billion is owed to the council as in city rates.”
He said the council, which has an average growth rate of 4.3 percent with the current population at 1.2 million, needs a number of projects such as recreational services to restore its lost glory.
Chome said management intends to automate its revenue system as one way of sealing fraud and corruption loopholes as well as easing revenue collection monitoring.
Responding to some of the issues, Chakwera warned against a “business-as-usual” approach if the city is to have the desired outlook.
Said the President: “If we want to see real change, everyone must question everybody’s decision on things including development. We must reverse some of the ways of doing things. Without integrity, without standards and without the unity of purpose that we need, these plans shall be mere dreams.”
While commending the council for developing a good strategic plan, he advised officials to rethink the kind of investors to be engaged and the type of partnership that may be needed in the quest of developing the country’s capital city.
However, Chakwera hailed officials for developing what he described as a good strategic plan. But he further warmed that the council should ensure the plan is implemented.
Among other things, the strategic plan outlines construction of recreation centres that will generate income and also introduction of a rapid public transportation system to meet travel needs of people within the city.
The 27 councillors who attended the meeting asked the President to give them an opportunity to import one duty-free car to ease their mobility in their respective wards.
On Thursday’s meeting was the third presidential meeting with councils, after similar ones in Blantyre and Mzuzu.