Nyore Madzianike Manicaland Bureau
Local authorities should reconfigure their budgets in order to ensure that more funds are allocated to service delivery as opposed to salaries, a Government official has said. Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Patrick Chinamasa said without restructuring their budgets, local authorities would continue to face viability challenges as 70 percent of their budgets would go towards salaries at the expense of service delivery.
He said the issue of budgeting remains a major problem in local authorities. Minister Chinamasa, who is also Makoni Central legislator, said this yesterday while addressing heads of local authorities and stakeholders at a meeting held in Mutare.
“Let me just go back to the basics. The road authorities that are gathered here are rural districts councils, town councils and municipalities like Mutare City Council. The major problem has been your budget structures. The same problems that are at national level are also affecting you, where 90 percent of revenue you collect is going to wages,” Minister Chinamasa said.
The Finance Minister said local authorities should deliberately channel more resources towards service delivery. He urged local authorities to make sure that wages take 30 percent of the budget.
“Unless that is corrected, you will not be able to deliver and you will continue to receive the complaints that we have. I urge you to make sure that the bulk of your resources go to service delivery such as road maintenance and other amenities. Even if Zinara (Zimbabwe National Road Administration) gives you the money, you will still use it to pay salaries,” he said.
Government, he said, will only grant borrowing powers to local authorities that have sound financial statements.
“Local authorities, which are efficiently run and their financial accounts with everything aboveboard, will be allowed to have borrowing powers. You will apply through your Minister of Local Government who will then write to me so that we can compare. Of course, you must demonstrate how you will payback,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said local authorities were now being allowed to procure equipment.
“It is important for local authorities to start putting in place management systems to help them procure equipment in a corruption free environment,” he said.