‘Councils by-passing MPs on devolution funds’

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Finance minister Mthuli Ncube

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has accused local authorities of by-passing legislators during disbursement of devolution funds, causing tensions in communities.

Ncube told MPs during Wednesday’s question-and-answer session that there was no cohesion between councils and MPs when it comes to the disbursement of funds.

“There is need for capacity-building and also need for better working relationships between MPs and leaders of local authorities,” he said.

“We have noticed that there is a gap where you find that the leaders of local authorities and the Executive are fully aware of the funding that has come through, but the MP is not aware at all.”

The Finance minister said it was imperative to carry out capacity-building programmes to address the information gap on State-funded projects as government scales up devolution programmes.

“It is our expectation that the local authorities, working with the MPs and whoever is relevant at that local level, identify projects including roads, schools, but the focus should be on infrastructure development,” Ncube said.

“Upon identifying such projects and after they go through the relevant local government processes, we have noticed that there is differential capacity across provinces and districts.”

On a different issue, Ncube said his ministry was finalising compensation for pensioners who lost their pension contributions between 2008 and 2009 during the switch over to the multi-currency system.

“So, we have a programme to improve the level of pensions in the country and compensate those who lost their pensions. We always stand ready to assist our pensioners as much as possible. We are going to make sure private companies, insurers as well as the government and other contributors that we can marshal around come to the party to create a fund that we can make use of in compensating the pensioners,” he said.

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