By Hileni Nembwaya
THE recent government budget cut has placed Ondangwa town council in despair, forcing the town council to put on hold all capital projects because of financial woes.
The town council was hit hard when the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development cut its 2016/17 capital projects budget from N$7.2 million to merely N$3.7 million, leaving the council with no option but to suspend most of its intended projects.
According to a circular written by the Ministry’s permanent secretary, Daniel Nghidinua forwarded to the Oshana regional council’s chief executive officer, Ondangwa was the only town in the region affected by the budget cuts while other neighbouring towns of Oshakati and Ongwediva were spared.
During the 2016/17 budget allocation, Ongwediva town council was allocated an amount of N$10 million for construction, while Oshakati was allocated N$20 million for the construction. The Oshakati master plan was allocated an amount of N$21 million, however after the budget review; the budget was cut to N$6 million.
Ismael Namgongo, the CEO of Ondangwa town council echoed his disappointment with the ministry saying that the budget cut was not fair to all local authorities.
“That money means nothing for a town as big as Ondangwa because we can barely do anything with such little money. This is really disheartening; our council receives very little money from the Government compared to our neighbouring towns. How can we even develop our town, when the ministry is treating us this bad,” said Namgongo.
Namgongo further said that bigger local authority councils such as Oshakati which are supposed to stand on their own are being allocated larger chunks of money from Government, every year.
“I do not understand why only Ondangwa’s budget was cut in the whole region. If there is something that the council is not doing right, the ministry should engage us and help us to rectify the matter. However we are not sulking or lying idle, we are used to such unfair treatment from the Government, already. We are planning on entering into private partnerships in order to develop our town,” he said.
He urged the residents to remain calm and be patient with the council, while it seeks other avenues to meet their needs.
Nghidinua in his statement informed the council that the mid-year budget review unfortunately has resulted in a reduction in the budget allocation of capital projects and thus the council is required to re-align its budget and project scope to be in line with the revised budget amount.
“We recognise that some of our capital projects are already experiencing a shortfall as a result of the budget review and expenditure-containment measures that were implemented during the 2015/16 and further this year’s budget cut compounds the exiting situations. However, the budget cut has been implemented across the entire Government, and we have no choice but to comply,” states Nghidinua.
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