Economic crisis stalls development initiatives in Byo

Bulawayo city fathers have expressed concern that they will not be able to implement their community development projects due to the worsening economic crisis in the country.

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) established the ward retention fund, a development scheme, which entails setting aside three percent of all funds received from payment of services billed to residents.

However, due to the rise in costs of services, it will be difficult to implement some of the capital intensive projects.

Already the local authority has approached various stakeholders in the city seeking approval of a supplementary budget.

Speaking on the sidelines of a recent local authority accountability workshop organised by The Municipal Review, WILD and Afrobloggers, Ward 1 Councillor Mlandu Ncube said the rejection of the proposed supplementary budget by residents last week will only worsen the situation as the city council is not spared from the economic crisis that has hit the country.

“Projects that were proposed by the communities for the 3% Ward retention fund cannot be sustained. Due to the high rate of inflation, service providers are now charging a lot of money. The Director can only authorise RTGS$10000 worth projects. Anything beyond that requires authorization from higher offices,” said Cllr Ncube.

“We, therefore, implore that the director is given the authority to sign off more money for projects. Considering the high cost of commodities and services it is best if the amount is raised to at least RTGS$50000.”

Cllr Ncube said residents in Cowdray Park suggested to use their funds to build a school but the project, because of the high costs involved, requires authorisation from higher offices.

He said the city council is working towards availing financial audit reports which are lagging behind by 2 years.

“2017 and 2018 finances have not yet been audited. Residents need to have access to these so they can see how their money is being utilised,” he said.

He added: “Compared to other cities and towns we are actually better because some are as far as 6 years back. This, however, is not the fault of the council but that of the appointed external auditor. They complain that they have too much workload.”

Cllr Ncube said the city has been appointed another auditor, Grant Thornton to audit the council`s books.

“We hope to work better with the new auditors. The initial one had a greater workload and after every audit, they had to send their papers for verification at their head office which is outside the country. At the end of the day, the process became too long. We hope that by the end of this year we would have started the 2017 audit,” he said.

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