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Council lobbies banks over unpaid bills



Business Reporter



THE Maseru City Council (MCC) is lobbying banks and other essential service providers to decline to offer services to people who do not pay their municipal bills.

The MCC spokesperson Lintle Moerane said this would mean that every Maseru resident would be required to produce a payment slip from the council when applying for a loan from a bank.

Under the proposal, a payment slip from the MCC will be a requisite from essential services providers.

Moerane said this would not only be limited to property rates but will include all fees due to the MCC.

She said unless residents and businesses within the municipality area are forced to observe the law and acknowledge their obligations to pay the bills, the MCC will not be able to carry out its mandate of improving the lives of the people of Maseru.

“Some will accuse the MCC of not doing its best to carry out its mandate but how are they expecting the council to work when it does not have funds?” Moerane said.

“We need to raise enough revenue to ensure that all areas under our jurisdiction are clean and safe for everybody and our people should enable the council to raise that needed money.”

“So, nobody should be taken by surprise when the next time they are going to apply for loans the banks require them to produce evidence that they are paying their bills,” she said.

Moerane said they are also lobbying chiefs in villages under the jurisdiction of the MCC not to give services to people who do not honour their obligations to the council “because those villages still require the MCC for various services”.

“Apart from ensuring cleanliness in our villages, there are other services like allocation and digging of graves, which we will not give to a resident who does not pay his bills,” she said.

Moerane said the MCC’s main sources of financial revenue are mainly property rates from government properties and businesses or industrial property rates.

The government, she said, pays faithfully while industrial property owners require to be reminded almost all the time and sometimes with a little push.

“As for the residents, only a minor fraction of them honour their obligations,” she said.

“We are expecting this money to develop Maseru. Also the government pays us money for capital projects. We compile our capital projects and hence the Local Government Ministry makes proposals to parliament,” she said.

“Once that money is approved it goes straight to that project,” she said.

“As for the community members, they do not comply with the Valuation and Rating Act 1980 – they don’t pay property rates despite that they are residing in the municipality area,” Moerane said.

She said if it was not because of the open handed Road Fund that pays for the municipality’s road projects, “we would have a very serious problem as a council when it comes to building of roads”.

“This is because it is a very small percentage of people who pay their bills,” she said.

“If all of us can pay our rates, these projects can be realised,” she said.

She said the law requires that every year all property owners should have their properties valued so that they can pay their rates to the council.

Industrial property owners pay less than three percent of the total value of property, meaning that every year the property should be valued.

If the owner does not value his property, the MCC brings its own expert to value it. Also where there is a dispute over the value of the property, “we bring our own expert”.

The same principle also applies to residential properties although the difference is the percentage paid.

“With the residents, we have decided to take the lowest value of the property in the city and apply it to all residents irrespective of the value of their properties,” she said.

She said even under that arrangement a resident must pay 0.0025 percent of their properties every year “but because we realised that it would be very expensive for them the council decided on a standard rate for all, the one that will be affordable to all”.

She said a resident is required to pay M170 per month.

However, in villages where residents have grouped themselves together and hired a garbage collector they are required to pay only M100.

“It is with the understanding that they are spending the difference on garbage collection,” she said.

“For example, in Masowe the residents are using some of the money for security provision and to us that is very good because we could not afford to do that for them,” Moerane said.

“This provision of hiring a garbage collector, which we call community contracting, is very good and we wish it can be done throughout the entire Maseru city,” she said.

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