ActionAid International Zambia (AAIZ) has said that the proposal by the Patriotic Front deputy chairperson for Elections Mr Kelvin Bwalya Fube to take away the powers from the Lusaka City Council to collect enough revenue through their appointed agents in Lusaka should be condemned in its strongest terms.
In a statement released to the media today, ActionAid said that the move will incapacitate Local councils in their mandate to deliver services.
Below is the full statement
15th December, 2016
For Immediate Release
ActionAid urges PF to stay away from local authorities
The proposals by the Patriotic Front deputy chairperson for elections Mr Kelvin Bwalya Fube to take away the powers from the Lusaka City Council to collect enough revenue through their appointed agents in Lusaka should be condemned in its strongest terms. ActionAid International Zambia (AAIZ) is of the view that this move will indeed incapacitate our councils in their mandate to deliver services. We would like to bring to the attention of Mr Fube that budgetary support from the central government to local governments has been reduced in recent times and the agreement entered into by the LCC of using private companies to collect levies on its behalf should be encouraged however such agreements should be done in a transparent and accountable manner allowing for public scrutiny. Local governments such as LCC have a mandate to provide services to the ever increasing populations.
“It is therefore surprising that in instead of supporting local governments gain autonomy in local revenue mobilisation and to broaden revenue sources so as to deliver effectively on their mandates there are attempt to choke the councils.
The holding back of most lucrative sources of taxes and revenue powers regulation leaves local governments with a limited own-source revenue base from which to make autonomous fiscal decisions”.
The broadening the revenue or tax base of local governments should be the top priority of government and all stakeholders if decentralisation is to serve its intended purpose. It is imperative; that deliberate effort is undertaken to elaborate proposals for enabling policies and mechanisms for revenue mobilization and utilization on property rates, business licensing and other lucrative sources of revenue for local governments.
Despite policy provisions and intentions to ‘transfer the authority functions and responsibilities with matching resources to lower levels’ the reality is that financial transfers from the central government to the local level are not; timely and predictable as well as commensurate to what is needed by the local governments for effective service delivery. This is likely to compromise the position of local governments in terms of effective planning and implementation of programmes thus negatively affecting their responsiveness to service delivery demands from the communities.
Although it is expected and commitment from the Central Government to put in place fiscal measures to support local governments to mobilize financial resources for public service delivery, ActionAid feels the opposite seems to hold and surprisingly to the great extent the reverse has been the case. It is very unfortunate that we have people in our society that are only looking at one group of people to benefit from what the local authority is expected to earn and forget a much broader picture of service delivery.
The excuse that the cadres mainly the youth have targets to meet on a daily basis should not be entertained as they are just promoting illegality in as far as revenue collection is concerned. We therefore urge the local authority to exercise its autonomy in ensuring that Zambians benefit from the much need resources than only a few party cadres seem to currently enjoying at the expense of the wider population.
As an organisation advocating for equal opportunities and the rights of marginalized groups such as youths, we understand that currently the country is struggling with high youth unemployment therefore, the Patriotic Front lead government should priortise programmes that empower the youths and have economic benefits for the country away from politicising government institutions.
As AAIZ we of the view that politics should be left out of the running of state institutions such as the local authorities in order for them to achieve the desired results. We need to encourage our local authorities to do more such that the much need resources are channeled towards service delivery for the benefit of all.
Nalucha Nganga – Ziba