Talib Bensouda has told journalists on Monday that Kanifing Municipality’s bank balances have improved significantly from the time he took over the leadership of the institution hundred days ago.
In a press conference at his office, Bensouda said the fiscal improvement is as a result of the several measures they have taken to curtail wasteful spending at the Council.
“We have implemented robust cost cutting measures to prevent leakage and ensure day to day growth of our bank accounts. This included restrictions on procurement and an embargo on all staff loans. Even with increase spending on municipal services, since taking office, we have grown our bank balances on a day to day basis from D8 million to about D16 million,” he said.
Bensouda has inherited the leadership of the KM at a very difficult time as the institution struggles with huge debt, among others.
He said they have found the former administration operating a multiple of bank accounts contrary to the local government finance and audit act.
He said they have already commenced the process of closing down the accounts to maintain one council fund development account.
“Today we are only operating three accounts which has vastly reduced maladministration and increased Council’s ability to consolidate resources and deploy future development projects,” he said.
He said an audit of KM is also being done by the national audit office for years 2016 and 2017, adding that such an exercise will “allow us to review Council’s financial manual”.
One of the biggest problems facing KM at the time of Talib’s election was waste management.
The Council does not have adequate vehicles to collect waste and the major dumpsite within the municipality, Bakoteh, was becoming an environmental catastrophe.
But the waste management nightmare is yet to be solved by the Council. Talib said there are numerous illegal dumpsites in the Kanifing Municipality as a result of illegal dumping mostly by donkey carts.
“I have instructed the administration to continue to clear all the dumpsites. So far we have cleared up to 15 illegal dumpsites and we urged the community to be vigilant in reporting these sites and work with us to ensure that the municipality it completely cleaned up,” he said.
“Due to serious resource constraints, a permanent solution is not yet available… However, to mitigate the menace, the Council has hired a contractor to push the waste and create roads for dump trucks.
“KMC has also join an inter-municipal committee with Brikama and Banjul to work on the eventual closure of the Bakoteh dumpsite and a joint strategy for waste management. We expect to roll out a permanent solution next year. We have as an emergency measure formulated a project for the short-term management of Bakoteh dumpsite. This is being tendered in the newspaper this week.
“KMC currently has five waste management vehicles. We are currently in discussion with stakeholders such as Central Government, sister cities and financiers to facilitate the acquisition of 20 or more waste collection vehicles into Council’s fleet before the end of the year.”
Talib also revealed the Council’s engagements with Central Government to ensure greater autonomy and also ensure Central Government pays its 25% subvention to the local governments.
“We have engaged the Central Government to continue the decentralization process to give Councils more autonomy. We are asking that municipal revenues of packing fees, billboard fees, and livestock fees be returned to Councils through the reversal of the unconstitutional directives… We have in principle agreed that car park fees be returned 100% to Councils…,” he said.
“We have also requested from Ministry of Local Government to cease allocation of vacant state lands in the Kanifing Municipality. Our remaining available lands must be… planned and we must strike a balance between community and commercial interest. We are continuing this negotiation with the Government.”
Meanwhile, Talib said they are also engaging government and National Water and Electricity Company to find a liable party to their debt over streetlights services.
KM owes NAWEC about D95 million on its streetlights services to people within the Council.