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Rumphi traders stop paying market fees

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Traders in Rumphi District have stopped paying market fees and are seeking an explanation from the district council on how some finances are being managed.

For instance, the business community argued that they agreed with the council that 25 percent of the money the council collects from them through market fees should be channelled back to the community through various development projects.

Rumphi Market Chairperson, Manase Mhango, alleged that in the 2017/18 fiscal year, the council generated about K50 million but failed to honour the 25 percent agreement.

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Similarly, in the 2018/19 financial year, according to Mhango, the council also failed to meet the obligation having collected about K67 million.

“It was until last year when we pressed them to explain why they have not been willing to work on some development projects,” Mhango said, adding that some of the money said to have been spent on some ‘small’ projects is ‘too much’.

Last week, the business people stormed the office of District Commissioner Fred Movete to demand explanations on the issues raised.

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In an interview Monday, Movete bemoaned what he described as the tendency of the traders failing to utilise proper procedures of expressing their grievances.

While conceding that the move to stop paying market fees has huge repercussions on the council’s revenue inflow, Movete said they are working to sort out the problems raised.

“There is a reporting procedure that we follow at the council. If they have issues with management, they can report to the Finance Service Committee or alternatively through their chairperson. I cannot be reporting to everybody, otherwise that defeats the whole essence of democracy,” he said.

Last year, the business community also stopped paying market fees to force Rumphi District Council to account for money that they alleged was abused.

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