Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare City Council has started conducting its decentralised pre-budget consultations with various stakeholders to gather residents’ input into council charges and expenditure, and has called for full participation of ratepayers.
The city’s corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said the meetings were being done in the spirit of having participatory budgeting.
“We have begun our budget consultations for 2019,” he said.
“We are calling for the full participation of all stakeholders. We want to have a shared budget that is mutually accepted by all parties.
“Councillors will be visiting various centres in their wards with council officials to gather input from the people. We will make sure we have a shared budget. Consulting the people means we value their input.”
The budget consultation teams will be headed by the zonal teams unlike in the past where they were headed by officials from Town House.
Mr Chideme urged residents and stakeholders to attend the meetings, saying it was their opportunity to determine what council rates and charges should be.
He said residents will get the chance to influence how council funds are to be utilised. The meetings will be held at community halls in all residential suburbs.
A recent survey revealed that at least 68 percent of residents in major towns do not understand the council budgeting process and only 30 percent participated in 2017 budget consultations in five major cities.
More than 65 percent of residents indicated that budget consultations did not have an influence on the final budget.
According to the Municipal Budgeting and Financial Management Survey conducted by the We Pay You Deliver (WPYD) Consortium, the three main reasons cited by residents for not participating are: not aware of meeting times (31 percent), do not know budget issues (13,8 percent) and not interested (13,1 percent).
Local authorities are required to present capital budgets of a minimum of 15 percent of total council budgets.
According to Local Authorities Circular Minutes No 2 Item 9 of 2016 on Capital Investment Programme (Capital Expenditure), Capital Budgets should be a minimum of 15 percent and a maximum of 25 percent of the total council budget.
It is also a ministerial requirement that local authorities should bring its employment costs in line with 30:70 employment costs to service delivery ratio.