The Herald

Council budgets approved

Minister of Public Service- July Moyo

Trust Freddy Herald Correspondent

Ninety-two budgets for 2023 presented by local authorities have been approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, with four being rejected for various reasons.

This was said by Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo in a statement yesterday.

Minister Moyo and his staff undertook a rigorous process of budget analysis and consequently approval.

The process went on for a week, including Saturdays and Sundays, starting from January 3 to 10 this year.

Budgets that were not approved were for Murehwa Rural District Council, Karoi Town Council, Binga RDC and Lupane Town Board.

Murehwa RDC officials will now have to meet Local Government Permanent Secretary Mr Zvinechimwe Churu, to relook into their budget. 

A team has also been sent to Karoi Town Council to assist in the proper crafting and adoption of the budget by council. 

Binga RDC and Lupane Town Board have been asked to explain their budgets, which do not seem “achievable because of the level of tariffs”, said Minister Moyo.

“All budget tariffs have been captured in both US$ and ZWL to allow councils to track the exchange rate movement in line with S1 185 of 2020 over the whole year. Most councils proposed standstill budgets except for a few who have made increases. Some of the increases were occasioned by a relook of council’s revenue sources, which have expanded because of following Rural District Councils Act, Urban Councils Act or their by-laws.”

Minister Moyo added that all councils had been directed to produce by-laws by January 31, in order to support their budgets. 

“This will ensure proper provision of quality services to their residents. Of the services that are provided by local authorities, water seems to cause problems except in such cities as Mutare,” he said. Mutare has adopted the Local Authorities Digital Systems (LADS), working together with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT). 

All local authorities have been urged to upgrade their Enterprise Resource Program (ERPS) to the LADS platform in order to raise their revenue collection capacities.

Minister Moyo said most local authorities finalised their final accounts, which are ready for auditing but there seems to be some delays by private auditors appointed by the Attorney General. “However punitive measures shall be instituted for those councils that fail to produce their final accounts based on poor performances of their finance directors or laxity in supervision by town clerks or chief executive officers.

“We are aware that most councils are operating with acting personnel in positions, owing to failure to timeously appoint new personnel by councils or due to pending court cases. 

“Even where court cases are taking place, councils should conduct disciplinary measures and anyone found guilty should be dismissed and replaced,” he said. After the rigorous approval process for 2022, Minister Moyo said some local authorities have “improved remarkably”. 

After the 2022 budget approval process, said Minister Moyo, Makonde RDC fired and replaced their finance director and have caught up with both financial audits and better presentation of budgets.

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“We acknowledge that most local authorities have initiated or completed their property valuation process. Councils were urged to undertake general valuation rolls in order to establish their property values which subsequently improves their property tax.

“The Ministers of Finance and Local Government have set aside funds through devolution to allow all councils to do their valuation rolls. Completion of valuation roles gives a true picture of local authorities’ asset base and is where taxes are derived from. This is also a good measure to crafting the GDP of a local authority, province and ultimately the nations GDP,” he said.

Councils have been urged to indicate their GDP growth trajectories, in line with the mantra leaving no place and no one behind. 

Valuation rolls cover all intrinsic values of land, superstructures built on land in both urban and rural areas. 

Superstructures are divided into residential, commercial, industrial and institutional. Industrial valuations include equipment and machinery that produces goods.

Minister Moyo said the interactive process of budget approval had afforded a one-to-one interaction between local authorities, the ministry and other agents of Government.

Councils have been able to explain in detail, all the projects they undertook in 2022 and provided pictures of the projects accomplished. 

Money for the projects came mainly from devolution funds while some councils used own funds to complement Government. 

Ratepayers have been encouraged to consciously support their councils to ensure rapid development ahead of the attainment of Vision 2030 of an empowered upper middle income society.

On their part, councils have been urged to focus their development to cover every village in rural areas and every neighbourhood in urban areas in order to ensure President Mnangagwa’s clarion of leaving no one and no place is achieved.

“The support that ratepayers in all the LA (local authorities) give to their councils resonates very well with the President’s mantra that, “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo(Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo),” said Minister Moyo.