Councils Sit On N$3 Billion

MINISTER of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says some local authorities are sitting on millions of dollars meant for development, while another minister Charles Namoloh has accused some councils of wasting funds on trips.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told parliament on Tuesday that visits to some of the councils revealed that funds were being kept in bank accounts, while development was at a standstill. She also said towards the end of last year, about N$3 billion allocated for development at these towns were kept in cheque accounts.

“There are a lot of developmental projects that remain unimplemented because local authorities are sitting on the money and are not using it for the development of their towns, and then government is accused of not investing enough in those towns,” she said.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the unused funds were impacting negatively on the development of those towns, although she did not name any councils that were sitting on funds.

Some local authorities contacted yesterday regarding the issue, disagreed with the minister, blaming the government instead for not allocating enough funds to implement capital projects.

“Why would we have funds lying around and not make use of them when we have so many projects to complete?” asked Karibib town council chief executive officer, Lesley Goraseb.

Goraseb said when his town requested N$26 million for capital projects, the government gave them N$5 million for the 20142015 financial year.

Outjo town council CEO Josef Urib said his town received N$7,5 million for the 20122013 financial year, and that the town was putting the funds to good use.

“About 80% of our projects have already been completed, and the N$2 million allocated for the 20122013 financial year was used to set up infrastructure and sewage projects,” he said.

Head of local economic development at Arandis, Sackie Haulofu said they were still anticipating getting N$8 million that was promised by the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development for the 20142015 financial year.

He also said that the town does not have any developmental funds sitting in a bank.

“The fact that we currently do not have the funds means that we have already used them up for other developmental projects such as infrastructure, water and sewage services,” Haulofu said.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, the Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development Charles Namoloh accused some local authorities of wasting millions of dollars meant for water and electricity on non-essential things such as luxury trips abroad.

He urged the local authorities to stick to their budgets, saying some councils were in debt and that his office has been receiving numerous requests for bailouts.

“The way funds are being abused by local authorities has become a serious concern,” he said, adding that local authorities were failing to account for the funds.

The minister’s concern comes a month after the Witvlei village council had its power disconnected after failing to pay a N$500 000 debt owed to NamPower.

The village’s chairperson, Livey van Wyk, said at the time that besides NamPower, her village also owed NamWater, Social Security Commission, the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF), medical aid service providers, and the Ministry of Finance, among others.

She said the village owes debtors a total of N$4 million: N$2,4 million to NamWater N$36 000 to GIPF N$97 000 to finance, N$360 000 to medical aid and an undisclosed amount to other debtors.

Other local authorities said to be facing financial problems are Helao Nafidi, Khorixas and Okakarara.

The Namibian earlier reported that Helao Nafidi town in the Ohangwena region, could not explain how N$2 million realised from the sale of plots was used while N$185 000 from the Build Together programme could not be accounted for during the financial year that ended in June 2013.

The Office of the Auditor-General earlier this year also reported 13 incidences where the town council could not provide proof of its shares in Nored.

Source : The Namibian