If the late Bingu wa Mutharika woke up today, he would be astonished to find that his dream of lighting up the Lilongwe City streets has gone up in smoke. Vandals are stealing poles, wires and all electrical appliances with reckless abandon.
A tour around the city has revealed that the mostly targeted streets are the Youth Drive and the M1 Road from Area 18 to the Kamuzu International Airport and the Area 18 Gulliver Road.
A senior official at the Lilongwe City Council (LCC), speaking on condition of anonymity, said the council has lost millions of kwacha due to the vandalism of street lights.
Along the Youth Drive, the vandals have removed wires while on the M1 Road, they are felling concrete poles to access the bars inside which are used for burglar bars.
“We are losing a lot of money because this investment is huge. The thieves are definitely getting these materials to resell because the economy is not in good shape and people are looking for money. My suspicion is that there is a ready market in areas where steel fabrication is the main business,” said the official.
LCC public relations officer Tamara Chafunya confirmed in an interview that the problem of vandalism is rampant and the council has been sensitising the communities on the need to safeguard street lights.
“We have been sensitising the people in the areas where vandalism is rampant. Areas along the M1 Road and the Area 18-Gulliver Road are the ones prone to vandalism, but we thought after conducting the meetings things will change,” she said.
Chafunya said the council has, so far, lost about K13 million (about $32 500) due to vandalism of street lights.
“Recently, the robbers have targeted the airport road and the Youth Drive and we have to concede this is a huge let down. What this means is that the city will continue to be in darkness and this does not augur well with our development plans,” she said.
Chafunya said the council will engage the police to see how the two institutions can work together to ensure that the malpractice is stopped.
A businessperson, Robert Gama, said what the thieves are doing is retrogressive because some of the roads they are targeting are “My plea to the council is to find a lasting solution to this problem by working closely with the police,” he said.
The 2012-13 Local Authority mid-year budget performance review
Last week, in our review of the 2012-13 Local Authority budget implementation progress in the six months period from July to December 2012, we considered the performance of Central Government fiscal transfers to the Local Authorities. We continue our discussion today by looking at the Local Authority mid–year budget performance in terms of locally generated revenue as well as programme implementation.
The 2012-13 Local Authority locally generated revenue budget is at K7 billion. The main sources of locally generated revenue include property rates, market fees, fees and service charges, licences and permits and collections from commercial undertakings. The total collection for the period July to December 2012 was K2 billion translating into 29 percent of the budget. The locally generated revenue budget performance of the four cities, two municipal and 28 district councils is presented in the Table below:
2012-13 Budget Actual Collection July – Dec 2012 2012-13 Budget Performance
MK MK %
District Councils 1,096,565,094 555,024,377 51%
Municipal Councils 132,029,399 65,442,635 50%
City Councils 5,806,307,585 1,376,551,920 24%
Total 7,034,902,077 1,997,018,932 28%
The standard budget collection rate for the period July to December 2012 was pegged at between 40 percent and 45 percent of the budget given the seasonality factors in the second quarter of the financial year. On the basis of this standard, the overall collection by district and municipal councils was satisfactory compared to city councils whose overall performance was 22 percent of the budget.
The total expenditure for the period July to December 2012 was K10.4 billion against a total budget provision of K26 billion. The total expenditure for the period was therefore at 40 percent of the approved budget provision. The main items of expenditure included the following:
lK1.4 billion was spent on personal emoluments, essentially being salaries for council’s directly recruited employees. The personal emoluments expenditure figure also included a sum of K421 million paid out as primary school teachers’ leave grants;
lK8 billion was spent on other recurrent transactions (ORT), which is the main budget component that has been devolved to the Local Authorities. Within this component, K4.5 billion was spent under the devolved health sector with a sum of K1.4 billion spent on acquisition of medical supplies; K1.8 billion was spent under the devolved education sector and included such activities as purchase of teaching and learning materials and routine maintenance of primary schools; K230 million was spent under the devolved agriculture sector; K239 million was spent under the other eleven devolved sectors with the district commissioner’s and chief executive’s secretariat accounting for K1.2 billion of the total ORT spending.
lK1 billion was spent on development projects with K220 million financed from council’s locally generated revenue, K589 million from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and K189 million from the Road Network Infrastructure Development Fund for the municipal and city Councils.
Overall, Local Authorities have tried to live within their means in as far as budget implementation trends for the first six months of the 2012-13 financial year are concerned. The main area of deviation has been on locally-generated revenues, particularly in the case of the city councils. This is an area that the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) is working to address for the remainder of the financial year. District councils also experienced challenges in the implementation of the devolved health sector budget where locum rates for the medical personnel and service level agreements with other non-governmental health facilities, in particular Cham health facilities, had been revised in the course of the financial year. Relief was however sought through the 2012-13 mid-year budget review where a sum of K891 million was made available for the devolved health sector budget.
The NLGFC remains optimistic of a successful implementation of the 2012-13 budget by the Local Authorities.