BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A NUMBER of local authorities has could be losing millions in potential revenue due to poor collection structures, a government audit has revealed.
Auditor-General Mildred Chiri, in her annual report on local authorities, noted poor governance and non-compliance with statutory regulations as some of the reasons for lost potential revenue in several councils.
“It is of great concern that governance issues, over the years, have continued to dominate my findings. Although there was an improvement from 2015 to 2016 (reduction from 68% to 49%), there has been a notable surge from 49% to 67% in the governance issues in 2017 and 2018, respectively,” Chiri noted.
“The audit findings warrant the attention of management and those charged with governance. The audit revealed that most weaknesses related to governance, service delivery, revenue collection and debt management.”
In the report, Tsholotsho is exposed for not having had a payroll schedule, giving room to fraud, while Victoria Falls last updated its valuation roll of properties in the resort town in 2000. This means new properties after 2000 had not been billed, resulting in lost revenue for 19 years, according to the report.
“Monthly payroll schedules could not be availed. Payroll for the year was extrapolated from a July 2016 payroll schedule, which was incomplete as it excluded the chief executive … There was no evidence that the payroll system was utilised in the year under review and no payslips were distributed to staff for the entire year,” the report on Tsholotsho RDC read.
In Victoria Falls, Chiri said: “The council did not have an updated valuation roll, in compliance with requirements of Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] section 253(a)-(f). The one in place was designed in 2000, and was no longer compatible with current economic changes that occurred from 2009.
“New properties and improvements that were made between 2000 up to the current period were not included in the valuation roll or supplementary roll; consequently these were not being billed.”
Beitbridge RDC was exposed as not having title deeds to some of its properties, with Bubi operating without key accounting policies, among others. Several other local authorities had similar weaknesses in management and accounting policies.