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Councils raise K11 billion

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Councils have collected K11 billion in the first quarter of the fiscal year, putting them on course to meeting their annual target of K27 billion.

This means, if the trend continues, the councils may collect K44 billion by the end of the fourth quarter.

According to the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC), this means councils raised 41 percent of the annual target.

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NLGFC Executive Director Kondwani Santhe said, on the sidelines of a meeting between the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities and NLGFC in Lilongwe, that councils can exceed their budgets if they think outside the box.

He blamed councils for relying on government funding and donor resources to raise revenue, something that needs to change if fiscal decentralisation goals have to be met.

“Councils have not done well due to a number of challenges; one is the recent economic downturn, the Covid pandemic as well as some systematic and managerial issues,” he said.

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He said in the recent past, councils have been collecting less than K20 billion which is affecting their service delivery, including salary payments, waste management and road maintenance.

“Equally, if you look at other services like health, education and agriculture, councils have not been fully supported. So, these are the common services that have been affected and suffered,” he said.

Santhe said councils needed to be innovative and look at what is prevailing in the regulatory framework, which also provides that all local authorities collect property rates.

“Currently, it is only the urban councils that are doing that [collecting property rates],” he said.

Meanwhile, there is a Local Authorities Financing and Fiscal Decentralisation Strategy being worked on.

It is expected that it will provide a framework for revenue collection.

Nkhotakota North parliamentarian Henry Chimunthu Banda encouraged councils to expand their revenue base and consider collecting revenue from new business establishments within their respective jurisdictions.

Local Authorities Committee of Parliament Chairperson Horace Chipuwa said after noting the challenges mentioned, committee members were satisfied with proposed solutions to revenue collection challenges.

“Based on their presentations and answers they have given, we are very satisfied,” he said.

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