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    Friday, 15 February 2019

    Budgets delays paralyse 92 councils

    Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
    Housing,  July Moyo.

    •Minister’s leave affects budget approvals 


    MASVINGO – It’s two months into the year and the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, July Moyo has not approved a single council budget for 2019 and one of the reasons given is that he was away on leave.
    The delay has paralysed local authorities, several senior council officials who spoke to the Mirror on condition of anonymity have said.
    Public Finance Management Act Chapter 22:19 requires all councils to operate with approved budgets.
    “Draft budgets for all the 92 local authorities are in the Minister’s  in-tray as you would know that he was on leave, said a source at the Ministry.
    Council officials said they cannot embark on capital projects, increase tariffs or rates until the Minister approves budgets. This, they said was stalling development in the various towns and districts as planned collection of revenue cannot take place.
    Budgets for the year are normally approved by December of the previous year at the latest. The former Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere would approve some of the budgets by as early as October, thereby enabling local authorities to implement their projects without delay.
    Some sources said Moyo has delayed attending to the budgets to allow him to go through a series of workshops with local authorities’ treasurers.
    When contacted for a  comment Minister Moyo who was in Bulawayo attending a meeting said the budgets submitted by the local authorities had no audited statements attached which is one of the requirements.
    He also added that there is need to properly analyse the budgets before they are approved and this could not be done by an acting Minister since he was on leave.
    Council budget range from as little as $1.7m for Nyaminyami RDC in Mash West to as much as $472m for Harare.
    The Minister can either approve or disapprove a budget. When a budget is disapproved, the local authority will have to redo it until the Minister’s recommendations are met. The local authority budgets go through a series of processes including consulting residents.
    “No budget has been approved as the Minister was on leave, he only started work recently, all budget proposals are on his desk” said Kudzi.
    The 2018 budgets  for example were approved in November 2017 and the 2017 budgets were approved by Kasukuwere beginning October 2016 while those that were asked to resubmit were completed by January the following year.
    “We are unable to charge new rates for water or buy new service vehicles until the Minister approves budgets.
    “The inflation being experienced in the country is also affecting service delivery. We will most likely apply for supplementary budgets by the time the approvals are done because prices of commodities including chemicals are going up daily,” said a senior council official from Kwekwe.
    “Our budget is yet to be approved and treasurers are currently attending a workshop with the Minister. We hope as soon as they are done the budgets will be approved,” said another council official.

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