THE Government will enforce strict adherence to good corporate governance and accountability standards in the management of devolution and decentralisation funds as a means to curtail corruption that has of late dogged local authorities.
The measures to ensure accountability and standard financial reporting are contained in the recently launched Devolution and Decentralisation Policy, which spells out strategies that will be employed to achieve the devolution goal.
The need to keep an eagle eye on the purse comes as local authorities, themselves major conduits through which devolution and decentralisation will be driven, have always made headlines for weak financial systems and outright corruption.
The policy also spells out the need to make use of standardised accounting codes for recoding transactions and this will be done through the office of the accountant-general.
“The accountant-general shall, in consultation with the auditor-general, prescribe and maintain a uniform chart of accounts applicable to sub-national tiers of Government as per Public Finance Management Act, Urban Councils Act and Rural District Councils Act,” reads the policy.
“The chart of accounts shall incorporate standard terms and classifications for fiscal, budget, and performance information of sub-national tiers of Government, including information on revenues, expenditures and a suitable classification for performance information.
“For uniformity and consistency purposes, the accountant-general shall prescribe and maintain the account codes for recording Government transactions and shall ensure consistency of the account codes with the budget classification and Government accounting standards,” spells out the policy.
The chart of accounts and budget classification shall also be the basis for identifying, aggregating and reporting to the Government all transactions subject to Government compliance and accounting officers will be mandated to ensure that all transactions are recorded, accounted for and reported in accordance with prescribed procedures.
The policy also spells out that local authorities should note their sources of revenue and income that they expect to finance their devolution and decentralisation projects with and such budget formulation must be guided in sections 46 and 47 of the Public Finance Management Act (Chapter 22:19) as well as the Urban Councils and Rural District Councils Acts.
Local authorities will have to abide by the dictates of these pieces of legislation as all sub-national Governments are legally regarded as public entities.
Although Government will avail 5 percent of the consolidated national revenue pool towards national devolution and decentralisation effort, sub-national tiers of the Government will be expected to benefit from the generation and retention of local income revenue streams.
The policy notes that sources of income differ from one sub-national tier to the next, but goes on to highlight some general streams. These include, but not limited to, grants, service provision rates from residents of a council jurisdiction, rent and hire charges generated from council land, buildings or equipment as well as funds obtained from the payment of business licenses and permits.
Devolution and decentralisation is a key strategy with which Government seeks to foster economic development in every corner of the country to attain upper middle income earning status by 2030 as espoused by President Mnangagwa.