By: Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
In the fiscal year ended December 2019, the PF led government, through the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) collected net tax revenues of K52.9 billion. According to the legislative requirements laid out in section 45(A)(1) and (2) of the Local Government Act, at least 5% of this money i.e. K2.645 billion should have gone towards the Local Government Equalization Fund (LGEF) to support the service delivery of our city, municipality and district councils; as well as meeting personnel and other capital expenses of our councils.
This means that in 2019, as a bare minimum, each one of our 103 councils (I beg to be corrected on the total number) were by law entitled to K25.7 million per annum, or K2.1 million per month in LGEF remittances by the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry for Local Government.
But throughout the entirety of the year 2019, the PF government failed to consistently deliver on the legislative requirement to remit LGEF to councils, with 68 of the most vulnerable district councils left practically dysfunctional. And while we await confirmation of the purported disbursement in respect of LGEF to 116 councils as recently reported in some sections of state run media, there is still no clarity around how much money has infact been disbursed by the PF regime and for what period.
What is without question, however, is that workers across most of our councils have not been receiving their salaries for several months and that delivery of critical community services by councils has been a real mountain to climb.
The reason we are worried and passionate about this issue is because it just does not disrupt the ordinary lives of ordinary people, it also disrupts community development efforts at constituency and ward levels where and when councils have a responsibility to deliver services e.g. garbage collection, environmental monitoring and management, as well as causing delays in the decentralization of council operations such as delivery of licensing services, issuance of various permits etc. Please note that the decentralized of council services can be a real drive towards creating employment for our citizens at the most basic level.
This is why once we get elected as Member of Parliament for #Kabushi, our drive will be to achieve the decentralization of some city council services towards Constituency centers for purposes of simplifying and expediting the manner our people deliver and receive services at the most basic level. But for this happen, government must dutifully abide by the law and deliver on the promise of both LGEF and CDF to our Constituency ( and others).
We will, therefore, continue to advocate that communities elect and install political leadership leadership that is visionary, disciplined, focussed and of sound judgement to ensure that we give ourselves a decent chance of moving our communities to the next level in the development cycle.