Saturday, November 15, 2008

Local councils’ failure to retire imprest worries Kalumba

Local councils’ failure to retire imprest worries Kalumba
Written by Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, November 15, 2008 4:33:34 AM

PARLIAMENTARY committee on local governance, housing and chiefs’ affairs chairman Katele Kalumba yesterday expressed concern at continued failure by councils countrywide to retire imprest and poor utilisation of the Constituency Development Funds (CDF). And Kalumba said it is disappointing that the government has failed to implement the decentralisation policy despite initiating it.

Moving the motion in Parliament to adopt a report of the committee on local governance, housing and chiefs’ affairs, Kalumba said despite several recommendations and appeals made by the committee and auditors, for principal officers in local authorities to abide by management of public funds, little progress had been recorded.

He said according to the current report made by former local government minister Sylvia Masebo, most councils did not prepare timely annual accounts as required by financial regulations.

“The report also revealed rampant failure by councils to maintain a range of accounting documents such as general and subsidiary ledgers, stores registers, fixed assets register, to mention but a few. Your committee also noted that guidelines pertaining to the retirement of imprest and the utilisation of the Constituency Development Funds have continued to be overlooked,” Kalumba said.

“Your committee are with the view that without strong and good leadership, the current accounting failures in local authorities will continue and our shared ambition and aspirations for accountability of public funds in all public institutions across the country will not be realised. Therefore, we strongly urge the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to closely monitor local authorities to ensure that guidelines and financial regulations are followed.”

Kalumba further said the government should come up with another policy direction if they had failed to implement the decentralisation policy. He said the government lacked political will to implement the decentralisation policy.

“Your committee are alive to the fact that the decentralisation process, in seeking to democratise and transfer powers, often threatens many actors who are reluctant to implement it. They [committee] request the government to provide leadership on the matter,” he said.

He also called on the government to ensure that local authorities in the country had adequate and qualified human resource. He said the local government service commission would not have meaningful impact on the performance of the councils, if they did not have resources that could attract and retain qualified staff to the councils.

And seconding the motion, Mwembeshi UPND member of parliament Edward Kasoko urged the government to decentralise the issuance of title deeds in the country.
Kasoko said the government should take leadership in helping the council.
Meanwhile, local government deputy minister Eustaricko Kazonga said the ministry had started developing capacity building to improve the operations of the councils in the country.

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