The expected smooth operations at Kapiri Mposhi Town Council is in doldrums as the local authority’s management continues accumulating and concealing unsustainable debt levels.
Recently, court bailiffs pounced on Kapiri Mposhi Town Council seizing a motor vehicle, computers and office furniture following the council’s failure settle an outstanding debt.
The development has unsettled Councillors who have lashed out at management after they learnt that as at 15 June 2022, their local authority owed a colossal K 216 million in capital projects, goods and services, legal fees and unremitted Statutory obligations.
This is against an annual budgeted expenditure of about K 69 million.
The development sparked concern from civic leaders who have accused management of previously concealing information from them on the status of the council’s debt.
Finance, Business Evaluation and Undertaking Committee Chairperson, Shita Mayankwa , during the third quarter full council meeting, disclosed that the Town Council owes over K 8,6 million to 11 contractors on capital projects,
The capital projects includes construction of the Council Hotel , Library, street lighting and an ultra-modern bus station.
Mr Mayankwa who is also Mpunde ward councillor disclosed that the council further owes K 188 million in form of unremitted statutory obligations that include pensions and insurance contributions for its pensionable employees.
” The grand total for Kapiri Mposhi Town Council’s debt is at K 216, 368,357 at of 15 June 2022 which includes K 8,609,404 on capital projects, K 8,878,469 on legal fees, K 188,039,327 on unremitted statutory obligations and K 881, 097 on goods and services,” Mr Mayankwa said.
However, Imansa Ward Councilor Muuka Patel has attributed the indebtedness to management’s propensity to implement fragmented projects at once against what he called a thin resource envelope.
The council had undertaken capital projects such as construction of a council hotel and lodge and shopping plaza among others stating that it was not prudent for the local authority to continue procuring contracts for projects that did not have specific budgetary support.
” We have projects that are still not complete and you created more problems by starting more capital projects such as the library and street lighting when the hotel, the plaza that should have started giving you money are not done …. so tell us what plans you had to finance these projects and pay the debt,” Mr Muuka asked.
And Lukanga Ward Councilor, Proscadnes Mwiinga wondered why management was not highlighting the indebtedness of the institution in its reports to the full council meetings.
” This information you kept it because you have no regard for us as councilors of this council and why are you now reporting … is it because there is a new CS … We want you to perform professionally and not to appease anyone,” Mr Muuka said.
Meanwhile, Kapiri Mposhi Town Council Treasurer, Chamuka Muwamba stated that the current wage bill amounting to over K 2 million per month is unsustainable for the council.
Mr Chamuka stressed that the council has overemployed against its revenue capacity stating that currently, there are 308 and 80 pensionable and casual employees respectively at the institution.
Responding to the concerns raised by the councilors , Mr. Chamuka explained that the council is only able to raise around K 1.5 million per month which is required to be used on paying salaries and service provision.
” It’s not our intention not to remit deductions but we find it difficult to remit and at the same time meet the wage bill and service provision with the current situation,” Mr Chamuka said.
” Basically, the wage bill is not sustainable with this workforce for a small council like Kapiri Mposhi where there is about 400 of both pensionable and casual employees… ,” Mr Chamuka said.
But Kapiri Mposhi Town Secretary, Yobwe Chisamu assured that the local authority will institute a task force to seal leakages of revenue and expand its revenue sources towards debt servicing.
Ms Chisamu further added that the Council will negotiate for plans to start liquidating statutory obligations with respective statutory institutions it owes.