Govt to release more devolution funds

Blessings Chidakwa Herald Correspondent
Government will disburse the remaining $417 million from this year’s devolution allocation of $703 million to councils within the next two months, driving its thrust to push development in marginalised communities, a Cabinet minister has said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Chief Director Communications and Advocacy Clive Mphambela at the first edition of the rural district councillors’ meeting in Harare on Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said it was up to the councils to use the money this year or later.

“The budget allocation for this programme (devolution) in this year’s Budget including the reviewed Budget, is $703 million and the total that has been disbursed so far is $286 million,” he said.

“I need to mention that the full $703 million will be disbursed before the end of the year, so this money will be available for use by local authorities on an ongoing basis, but it will all be released this year. Whether you are going to use it this year or next year it’s up to you.”

Prof Ncube said councils should tap into central Government’s thrust of pushing for a private sector-led economy.
“Local authorities also are expected to move out of services where the private sector has demonstrable competence as we need to have a private sector-led economy,” he said.

“Our job as local authorities are to create an enabling environment rather than to compete against the private enterprise in the economy. We should move into space where we are building the infrastructure and creating an environment where business can thrive.”

Prof Ncube outlined some of the expectations from councils under devolution and also the need to address some of the challenges that exist, including, “confidence issues, inefficiency, insolvency within our local authorities and also need to implement measures to enhance revenue collection and managing our expenditures”.

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