LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo has threatened to veto any council budget that has a huge salary bill and neglects allocating money to service delivery.
Addressing a press conference at his government offices yesterday, Chombo said budgets that will be approved by his ministry are those that will allocate 70% of income to service delivery and 30% to salaries and wages.
“Emphasis this year is being placed on ensuring that budgets are compliant with the 30:70 salary to service delivery ratio
. . . that the budgets are realistic and achievable and are crafted in such a way as to complement national development priorities,” he said.
“Budgets that do not conform to the salary and service delivery ratio will not be approved by the ministry.”
Chombo warned that any local authority that would implement a budget not approved by his ministry would be dealt with, since they would be acting illegally.
The minister, without naming any local authority, noted that some councils had failed to comply with the 2015 budget submission deadlines.
“Those local authorities who are yet to submit their budgets, are advised to submit them by January 26,” he said.
“I wish to underscore that no local authority shall implement an unapproved budget, as that would be clearly illegal.”
However, Chombo could be practicing what he does not preach as the government is itself struggling to rationalise its wage bill, with more than 80% of revenue going towards salaries.
The Kwekwe City Council budget is one of those which could be rejected because it allocates more than 58% of revenue inflows to salaries.
Mayor Matenda Madzoke, at a budget consultative meeting, said it was difficult for his council to align with the government directive without slashing salaries.
“That guideline is very difficult to meet without firing workers or cutting their salaries,” he said.
“Already our employees feel that they are underpaid and overworked because we have a workforce shortage.”
Kadoma mayor Muchineripi Chinyanganya said his council had submitted a budget which complied with the 30:70% guidelines and was hopeful it would be approved.