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Councillors fret over development funds

Bulawayo City Councillors have expressed concern over delays by the local authority to disburse the ward retention funds.

Over the past months the city fathers have been on record complaining about the fund’s inadequacy because of the economic upheavals bidevilling the country.

The ward retention fund is a development scheme which entails setting aside three percent of all funds received from payment of services billed to residents for developmental activities in the ward.

Earlier this year the councillors requested that the finance director be given the authority to sign off more money under the three percent ward retention fund.

The city fathers proposed that the ward retention fund should be raised to at least RTGS$50 000 citing that the projects under the retention fund cannot be sustained due to the economic crisis in the country.

The Director of finance is not allowed to authorise anything that is beyond RTGS$10 000 worth of projects without approval from the central government.

In an interview with CITE Ward 13 Councilor Frank Javangwe said that the council management committee is taking too long to deliberate on the issues raised.

“I don’t know what is going on, it has been almost three months since we proposed that the finance director should be given the power and that has affected so many projects,” said Cllr Javangwe.

“In my ward we are supposed to have started our brick moulding project but due to the delays on the approval of our proposal and the supplementary budget we are still on hold.

“I am now feeling the pressure from the residents and I cannot keep telling the same story that our project requires a lot of money and we have to wait for the funds a bit longer which we have been.”

Meanwhile, Ward 1 Councillor Mlandu Ncube said that their proposal is still being considered at department level.

“Our request has to first go to the department as a proposal, then the department must make a study to see whether it is possible before submitting it to management committee, then finance committee and finally the council,” explained Cllr Mlandu.

He said that they are working hard in making sure that the ward retention fund allocation is increased.

Speaking to CITE, Bulawayo Deputy Mayor councillor Tinashe Kambarami said that they are still waiting for the supplementary budget to be approved before council disburses any funds under the development scheme.  

“Our supplementary budget has not yet been approved and I can assure you it has already been eroded by inflation, “said Cllr Kambarami.

“We currently on the 2017 ward retention fund and yet to receive 2018 funds. In my ward we need to construct a bridge that connects Mahatshula to Woodville and Glengarry and also the instalment of solar lights but these projects are capital intensive.”

He said the local authority’s problems are emanating from the central government.

“The government is the base of all our problems which is why many council projects are stalling. We have a lot of investors waiting but the problem is the currency because they are asking how are we going to pay back their US dollars.”

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