Realignment of laws slow, councils face funding constraints

By Staff Reporter

Local authorities will continue to struggle in the coming year due to lack of direct funding from the fiscus, a development government has attributed to the slow pace in the realignment of laws with the new constitution that will result in the setting up of provincial councils and pave way for them to receive financial support.

This came out at the 2015 national budget presentation at Parliament House on Thursday by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa.

Chinamasa presented a $4.1 billion budget, which has not changed from the current budget owing to a crippling liquidity crunch that has seen government coffers drying up.

“Mr Speaker Sir, the Constitution stipulates that “not less than 5% of the National Revenues raised in any financial year must be allocated to the provinces and local authorities as their share in that year”, making the governing legislation necessary.

“Treasury is ready to comply with this Constitutional requirement and awaits the enactment of the necessary legal framework,” said the Finance minister.

He lamented the slow re-alignment process, noting that only three laws were successfully aligned in the last session of parliament.

“It is, therefore, necessary that we speed up processes for realigning the Acts to the Constitution, that way, underpinning the establishment of the Provincial Councils Act to pave way for direct provincial allocations,” said Chinamasa.

Local authorities are struggling to provide basic services to residents due to lack of funding from government and erratic revenue inflows from ratepayers.

This has forced local authorities to borrow from financial institutions, although they will need government approval first, to finance capital projects such as water and sewer reticulation services, rehabilitation of roads and other infrastructure and construction of houses.

Meanwhile, the man charge of the country’s purse strings also announced that government will be introducing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF),  a fund managed by Members of Parliament, which was established in 2010 to alleviate poverty and improve standards of living for all Zimbabweans through developmental projects.

However, the fund was suspended a year later after some MPs were said to have abused the $50 000 allocated to each constituency.

“Notwithstanding this, the Constituency Development Fund remains an important instrument for promoting balanced development projects in communities across the country.

“Accordingly, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will be developing a Bill that will improve transparency and accountability in the management of the Fund, therefore, paving way for Treasury support,” said Chinamasa.

He also announced a $10.5 million budget for CDF.

Photo credit: www.newsday.co.zw

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