Mzuzu City Council has lost K166 million in property rates its residents failed to pay in the present financial year, a situation which has affected developmental activities for the city.
According to the council’s revenue performance for 2013 and 2014, they projected to collect K223 million as property rates, K276 million as fees and service charges and K69 million as income from markets.
But out of this, they managed to collect K57 million as property rates, K52 million as fees and service charges and K36 million as income from markets.
Mzuzu City Council director of finance Khumbo Masankhula revealed this on Friday during a public debate involving councillors.
Masankhula said major sources of revenue for the council to develop the city are property rates such as city rates, ground rates and occupancy rates.
But he said out of the registered 40 000 properties, only 12 000 pay these rates.
“Apart from constructing roads, revenue collected from these property rates is also used to support the operation of our administration, pay water and electricity bills and salaries. Failure of individuals to pay these rates has affected all these services,” he said.
During the debate, the aspiring councillors pledged to help the council in collection of these rates. They said residents will be sensitised on the importance of paying property rates.
However, the councillors said once the rates have been collected their priority will be on construction of health centres in their wards to reduce pressure on Mzuzu Central Hospital and Mapale Health Centre.
Independent aspiring candidate for Luwinga Ward, Winfred Mphande, observed that townships in Mzuzu do not have clinics, a situation which piles pressure on Mapale Health Centre.
“Although Mzuzu Central Hospital is situated in Luwinga but its residents are turned away from the hospital because it welcomes referral cases only. This brings pressure on Mapale Clinic. We need more clinics in these townships,” he said.
The debate was organised by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust in conjunction with Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) with financial support from the United Nations.
103 candidates are aspiring for the 15 wards in the city. During the debate, People’s Party (PP) aspiring candidates were conspicuously missing.