via Chombo threatens to veto council budgets – NewsDay January 23, 2015
LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo has threatened to reject any council budgets that were not skewed in favour of service delivery.
Addressing journalists at his offices in Harare yesterday, Chombo said he would only approve budgets with 70% earmarked for service delivery and the remaining 30% to salaries and wages.
“Emphasis this year is being placed on ensuring that these budgets are compliant with the 30:70 salary-to-service delivery ratio,” Chombo said.
He added: “Realistic and achievable budgets are crafted in such a way as to complement national development priorities. Budgets that do not conform to the salary and service delivery ratio will not be approved by the ministry.”
“To those local authorities who are yet to submit their budgets, these are advised to submit them by January 26. I wish to underscore that no local authority shall implement an unapproved budget as that would be clearly illegal,” Chombo said.
His call comes at a time Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa is struggling to balance government’s wage bill and revenue inflows. Government’s salary bill is currently gobbling 68% of total government income.
Harare City Council is one of the local authorities with a very bloated wage bill that may fail to comply with Chombo’s order.
In Kwekwe, 58% of revenue collected by Kwekwe City Council goes to salaries.
Kwekwe mayor Matenda Madzoke, during a budget consultative meeting, said it was difficult for his council to comply with the government directive without slashing salaries.
Kadoma mayor Muchineripi Chinyanganya said they had submitted a budget which complied with the 30:70 guidelines and was hopeful that it would be approved.
Meanwhile, Kwekwe magistrate Vimbai Mutukwa has ordered the local authority to stop disconnecting water supplies to unpaid residents. The order came after Kwekwe resident Jackie Ngulube of Mbizo challenged the disconnections and disputed the debt figures.
Programmes director of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa, Obert Chinhamo, whose organisation funded the application, encouraged all people to take legal action if local authorities continued disconnecting people without following the due process of the law.