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‘Councils must enhance revenue collection’

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BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
LOCAL authorities have been urged to improve their revenue collection measures in order to stop their over-dependence on devolution funds to finance developmental projects.

This was said by Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution secretary Tafadzwa Muguti during the commissioning of four service delivery vehicles by Chitungwiza Municipality offices on Thursday.

Chitungwiza purchased two refuse trucks and two ambulances last year at a cost of $32 million from its share of the $60,8 million received from Treasury as devolution funds.

The municipality recently claimed that service delivery was being hampered by residents’ failure to pay rates, with arrears currently hovering around $700 million.

Some of its assets like Chibuku Stadium, beer halls and town halls which it could use to improve its revenue collection have been lying idle for a long time.

Muguti, who was representing Harare Metropolitan Affairs minister Oliver Chidawu at the event, said local authorities should enhance their revenue collection measures in order to effectively provide services.

“It’s commendable that devolution funds have been used to purchase capital equipment meant to enhance service delivery and we sincerely appreciate the transparency. But let me also hasten to say that while the judicious use of devolution funds is important, local authorities must also aim to constantly improve their revenue collection and never depend on devolution funds to bankroll developmental projects,” he said.

“The municipality must aim to enhance revenue collection and provide services timeously and diligently to encourage residents to pay rates and other levies. Similarly, residents as critical stakeholders must support the local authorities in their quest to improve service delivery by paying rates and levies on time to ensure the smooth running of council operations.”

Muguti also urged Chitungwiza to update its assets register, saying assets need to be jealously safeguarded and used to generate revenue.

“Council properties and assets are sacrosanct and as such must be jealously guarded. We have seen unsanctioned sale of such assets and leasing at sub-market rates without government approval. This should stop forthwith. Chitungwiza Municipality is urged to update its council asset registers and sweat it’s assets to bring revenue to council,” he said.

“Each time new councillors come to Chitungwiza, management doesn’t provide them with an assets register. Sometimes we blame councillors, but council workers hide the register. We don’t like that. I urge council to act on that.”

Before the latest acquisition of service vehicles, Chitungwiza had a fleet of nine refuse trucks donated by the Japanese government in 1997, plus another one that was bought in 2016.

The new vehicles, comprising two refuse compactors and two state-of-the-art ambulances, will bolster the Chitungwiza municipality, which needs 12 refuse compact trucks if it is to deliver effective services to residents flawlessly.

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