Legislation to support devolution needed: Ncube

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube says there is need to enact legislation on provincial councils to implement devolution so that the councils can get their statutory allocations.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Ncube last week told MPs during debate on the Finance No 2 Bill, to do with the 2019 supplementary budget and which is now an Act, that he had allocated a budget to provincial councils in line with the requirements by section 301 of the Constitution, but the money has not been disbursed yet.

It stipulates in section 301(3) that: “An Act of Parliament must provide for not less than 5% of the national revenues raised in any financial year must be allocated to the provinces and local authorities as their share in that year.”

“On processes like this, 25% of the budget goes directly to the provincial council and 75% goes directly to the rural district councils,” Ncube said.

“The legislation regarding the provincial councils’ issues needs to be concluded, and it is a matter that is in hand and the process is under way, but an allocation has been made already. That allocation at provincial councils’ level is about $114,4 million and the remainder out of the $703 million is then allocated at rural district level.”

Ncube said although the allocation was made, disbursements of the money had not yet been made because the legislation on provincial councils needed to be concluded first.

Provincial councils were set up by the 2013 Constitution and devolution was seen as a tool to decentralise government systems, deepen democracy and promote locally driven development and delivery of public services in different regions.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administrations promised to implement devolution during their 2018 to 2022 government term.

The other piece of legislation, which Ncube said needed to be amended so that funds can be provided for, is the War Veterans Act. In the 2019 supplementary budget, Ncube allocated an additional $15 million towards the War Veterans Administration Fund.

He said the additional $15 million would cater for health, school fees and other welfare issues of war veterans.

“A request was also made on the issue of having import duties on goods imported by war veterans scrapped. We have listened and we have taken note. We will look into this issue to see if it can be progressed, but on a case by case basis,” he said.

“Secondly, we will bring an amendment to the War Veterans Act, which was approved in Cabinet, and which will try to capture a new package to the war veterans welfare.”

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