1st 100 Days In Office… FCC Bags Le35B  

 

By Ayodele Deen Cole

 The Mayor of Freetown City Council (FCC), Her Worship Yvonne Aki Sawyer has outlined some of the achievements she has made in her first one hundred days in office.

According to the Mayor, the FCC has identified some sources of revenue in a bid to improve revenue generation and service delivery, include recovering some of the Le35 billion in property rate arrears owed to the council by targeting large debtors, improving the local tax compliance rate and increasing paid-for parking in the Central Business District (CBD) of Freetown.

Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer furthered that around 90% of the council’s own-source revenues are generated from property rates, license fees, local tax, market dues and lease rent, adding that of all these sources of revenue, local tax has the lowest compliance rate despite it has over Le 2.5bn potential revenue.

She also disclosed that they have put in place straightforward measures to quickly improve revenue mobilization, including collecting property rate arrears from large debtors, adding that the FCC has digitized its existing arrears database and is in the process of writing to the largest commercial debtors. The Mayor noted that properties that do not comply will be visited by the FCC Management and after a grace period will be published online and in newspapers.

She also highlighted other measures including conducting ward-by-ward collection drive, adding that teams of FCC staff and Metropolitan Police are currently on the streets conducting ward-by-ward collection drives for local tax, license fees, property rates and billboard fees.

Mayor Aki Sawyer also mentioned the Council’s partnerships with other institutions to support the payment of taxes, such as mobile service providers to enhance local tax payment using mobile money, and Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats SL) for data on households and businesses across the capital.

She disclosed that the Council’s Street Parking Unit currently sells parking bays to businesses located in the CBD for an annual subscription fee of Le2.1 million.

“Finances impact heavily on the Council’s ability to deliver service to the people of Freetown, while we work on medium and long-term strategies to increase our capacity to generate more money,” the Mayor said, adding, “These quick wins could generate Le1-2billion from arrears, plus up to Le1billion from local tax and an additional Le1billion from parking.”

Mayor Aki Sawyer asserted that it can be hard for people to feel motivated to pay their rates and taxes when they do not see service delivery improved.

She therefore appealed to residents of the municipality to realize the importance of  supporting the FCC for its transformation strategy if the Council is to achieve any sustainable change.