Property owners in the city of Lilongwe owe the Lilongwe City Council K5 billion in unpaid city rates, denying the authority substantial resources it could have used in the development and provision services in the city.
The council has since offered relief to rate payers with outstanding debt by offering them an opportunity to pay at least 25 percent and agree with the council on the clearing of the rest of their balances with an assurance that their properties would not be reposed.
“We have no intention of selling anybody’s property yet because we know that for many people, it takes many years of working to build or buy a house. That is why we want those who owe us to pay 25 percent of the debt and we agree on how they are going to pay us the remaining money,” Lilongwe City Council Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Mmangisa told a meeting of property owners in the city last Friday.
The council gets 2 percent of its expenditure funds from government and gets the remaining 98 percent from revenue collected as ground city rates and other revenues such as market fees.
Mmangisa said that in order to ensure effective payment systems, the council has computerised its systems where one can go and request his pay history as opposed to the past where the system was manual and was prone to corruption by the council officials.
“I must apologise that in the past some people lost their money because they were asked to pay cash and offered fake receipts from our officials but we have managed to help these people because we know that it wasn’t their fault. The good thing is that we have now computerised our system which has been running for about two years now.”
The council has also agreed with banks such as NBS Bank and National Bank for people to be paying straight to the council’s account and only bring the deposit slip to the council as a proof of payment.
Mmangisa said the council has just finished a valuation exercise which is going to give property owners true value of their property.
“When true value of property is shown, it helps the owners when they want to use their property as collateral when they want to get loans from banks,” said Mmangisa.