New deadline for Harare to resubmit budget

31 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
New deadline for Harare  to resubmit budget Minister Chitando

The Sunday Mail

Nokuthula Dube

Harare City Council has been given up to April 19 to resubmit its proposed 2024 budget after initial submissions were rejected a fortnight ago for failure to comply with guidelines meant to enhance service delivery, which were outlined by President Mnangagwa last year.

The city’s initial budget submissions to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works were red-flagged for failure to align with the President’s blueprint, “A Call to Action, No Compromise to Service Delivery”.

Addressing Harare city councillors and management during a feedback meeting last week, Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando directed the council to resubmit its budget before the end of next month.

“The 2024 budget, which we are all aware of, was not approved; and that was not just for the City of Harare: There are other two local authorities — Gokwe and Hwange — whose budgets were not approved,” he said.

“There was a blueprint, which was launched by His Excellency, the President, on November 1, that outlines issues which are being taken into consideration when approving all 92 local authorities’ budget proposals.

“All local authorities were expected to draft their 2024 budgets in alignment with the blueprint on service delivery.”

In analysing the budgets, he said, the Government engaged technocrats from local institutions of higher learning to assess whether or not they were in sync with the blueprint.

“The budgets were thoroughly reviewed in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, in compliance with the blueprint,” he said.

“After assessing the budgets, those that did not meet the standards were rejected, and for them to qualify, they have to redo them to align with the blueprint before April 19.”

Minister Chitando said some of the approved budgets had weaknesses, which were, however, not too serious. “There are quite a number of budgets which were approved with conditions after it was agreed they were partly in compliance with the blueprint,” he said.

But the main reason Harare’s budget was rejected, Minister Chitando said, was the absence of audited accounts.

“They have not audited accounts from 2017,” he said. There is also the absence of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for revenue collection, which we discussed.

“We agreed as a way forward that the city, by April 19, should come up with a roadmap to address some of the major issues.”

Harare mayor Jacob Mafume said the meeting with Minister Chitando was constructive.

“The discussions were forthright and we found areas of conjunction,” he said.

“We will make sure that our staff deliver a budget to the residents and to the ministry that can take the city forward, in line with the development trajectory that was articulated by the Government.”

In rejecting Harare’s budget, the Government cited the absence of a functional computer-based organisational system, over-staffing and unaudited accounts, among other infractions.

The Government stated that Harare has continuously failed to procure an ERP system for the past five years, contributing to low revenue collection and consequently poor service delivery.  The city’s budget proposal was, therefore, an inaccurate reflection of the council’s revenue generation capacity.

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