Gweru council finance department is incompetent-Mayor Kombayi

Gweru Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi

…residents disapprove, claim the US$ 37 m budget is inflated

Tinaani Nyabereka

Gweru-Mayor Cllr Hamutendi Kombayi has joined hands with residents in disapproving the 2023 US$37 million budget approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works last week accusing council management of inflating figures in the final product.
This approved budget was revealed by council in a notice to residents, with Kombayi later accusing the finance department of adding 15percent Value Added Tax (VAT) which was never discussed during budget consultations.
He went on to accuse the finance department of being incompetent.
“If we are to sit down as a team and assess this budget, we can see where things went wrong. We cannot sit down as council and take the budget to stakeholders, agree on that budget then the next thing we get a different copy of any adjusted budget.
“I hear the budget which was approved is the 20 percent increased one where by it had a 15percent VAT imposed on it without stakeholders input. I remember when consultations were being done, I was defending the 4 percent increase but we now have a 20 percent increase on tariffs.
“It means we have an incompetent finance team which does not know what it is doing,” said Kombayi.
However highlighting the nature of the budget, Gweru Council Finance Director, Livingstone Churu said the budget was crafted by the residents to address service provision issues in areas which were lagging behind.
“The budget belongs to the people, it was crafted to address service delivery issues that is our water, sewer in areas such Woodlands, Senga, Mkoba among others. So the budget is anchored on providing a sustainable service delivery,” he said.
Gweru Council Finance Committee chairperson Cathrine Mhondiwa said it was unfortunate that some issues were not deliberated clearly to the residents especially the one to do with 15% VAT.
“The budget seeks to ensure gender-responsive service delivery hence the focus is predominantly on water, sanitation and hygiene and street lighting.
“Regarding the issue of the 15% Value Added Tax, it was not clear at first and that is why it ended up causing everyone to burst. Had it had been said at first, am sure it would be a different story,” she said.
The budget however was changed downwards from the initial US$ 46 million to US$ 37 million, at the same time accumulating a 15 percent VAT increase on top, a move which saw the final budget getting a 20 percent increase.
Unpacking the budget this week during a radio talk show in the Midlands capital, Gweru United Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Development Association (GUPRARDA) director Pastor David Chikore said as residents they could not embrace the budget as it was not people driven.
“We as residents right from the beginning failed to have thorough input, we didn’t even get to see the final document.
“We pleaded with council last year to provide us with the final document so that we scrutinize it before approval, but up to now we have not seen it.
“We can’t say we own a budget because consultations were done. It has become a ritual that yearly consultations are done but residents are never placed at the centre of the budget, therefore we cannot embrace it,” said Chikore.
According to the 2023 budget summary, some of the areas which were set to be improved include administration which enabled operational efficiency for effective service delivery, technical support from data processing, mechanical workshop, roads and water among other things.


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