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Government wants lasting solution to council wrangles

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Director of Local government Services Richard Hara has called on Local Government officials to find ways of resolving their grievances without closure of council offices.

Hara’s call comes at a time people have, led by ward councillors, been closing offices for district commissioners and chief executive officers.

He told delegates to the Annual Fiscal Decentralisation Forum in Blantyre that the tendency has derailed decision making in councils, resulting in low levels of development.

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“I would like to encourage all stakeholders at council level to use readily available remedies and structures to resolve differences other than resorting to off-book remedies that have for a long time affected development at local level,” Hara said.

He said, if wrangles are resolved amicably at council level, goals set in the 1998 Decentralisation Policy will be realised.

“Already, a number of duties that were in the hands of the government have been devolved to local authorities.

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“Having embarked on the coordination of the Decentralisation Policy by devolving three sectors in the 2005-06 financial year, the ministry has overseen devolution of up to 18 sectors to date, including education, health, agriculture, [the] Immigration [Department] and National Registration Bureau, among others, in order to consolidate the benefits of decentralisation so far realised,” Hara said.

The Annual Fiscal Decentralisation Forum was organised by the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC), a financial regulator for Local Government.

NLGFC Chairperson Richard Chapweteka emphasised the need for prudent financial management in the devolution of resources to Local Government.

“It is pleasing to note that most challenges that were rocking councils, in terms of public finance management, have now been greatly minimised owing to the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards in councils,” Chapweteka said.

This was the first time for NLGFC to organise the annual forum following a merger with the Local Development Fund Technical Support Team in April 2018.

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