Koforidua — The New Juaben South Municipal Assembly (NJSMA) has collected GH¢2,664,559.26 as of July this year, representing 33 per cent of its revenue target of GH¢6,677,433.
The shortfall, according to the Budget Officer of the NJSMA, Mr Francis Doe-Glah, was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He told the Ghanaian Times in an interview here yesterday that the socio-economic conditions had made it difficult to collect revenue.
"Considering the fact that the peak time for collection of property rates [for example] was between January to June and it was during this time that COVID-19 reared up its head," he said.
He explained that collectors of property rates in the municipality returned to the office with excuses from property owners such that the distribution of bills became difficult.
Mr Doe-Glah blamed the situation on the closure of businesses, including hotels, pubs, restaurants and markets due to the pandemic, making it impossible for them to generate income to pay revenue to the assembly.
"These businesses form a chunk of the businesses which pay revenue to us and if they are affected, then we cannot collect the needed revenue," he said.
He, however, said the assembly had put in some measures to ensure that the needed revenue could be collected even though it was likely that not all the targeted figure would be realised.
He mentioned renegotiation of rates with some businesses as part of measures to collect the revenue.
"Some of the businesses have approached us for renegotiation of rates to enable them to pay. We have also sent notices to defaulters and liaised with EOCO to help with the recalcitrant ones and we are glad to say some are responding," he said, adding that the assembly would do its best to collect the moneys.
The Municipal Chief Executive of NJSMA, Mr Isaac Appaw-Gyasi, reiterated that "the effect of COVID-19 has been huge, considering that a lot of businesses stopped operating and especially markets were decongested and market women taken to places not designated as markets and this made it difficult for them to sell and pay rates."
The MCE said till date, some businesses had not opened, adding it had been difficult to collect revenue for development, a situation he described as "worrying".
"Some businesses have come for renegotiation with our financial department so we can make it easy for them to pay and hence we urge all, to at least make efforts to pay their rates and we will also do our part to create an enabling environment for them to thrive," Mr Appaw-Gyasi said.