'50 percent of councils' expenditures go to salaries'

HARARE - A survey into the employment costs of Zimbabwe’s five major cities indicates that more than 50 percent of their expenditure goes towards salaries.

The report titled “Cities in Distress Municipal Budgeting and Financial Management Survey” showed that service delivery gravely suffered because of this.

The report findings come as councils are failing to provide clean potable water to their residents increasing the risks of waterborne diseases as people get the precious liquid from unsafe sources.

“Employment costs are a major expense incurred by local authorities.

“Essentially, this means that about 50 percent of council revenue is being used to pay salaries.

“Further, local authorities are spending less than 10 percent of their expenditure on repairs and maintenance.

“... it means that local authorities are not maintaining their assets. Without such maintenance of services infrastructure, the future of service delivery cannot be guaranteed,” the report said.

In the report from 2012 to 2015, Masvingo City Council’s employment costs averaged 55,8 percent of total expenditure.

The report also states that in 2016, Bulawayo City Council’s employment costs constituted 52,5 percent of revenue collected.

“In 2016, Gweru City Council’s employment costs were 44,38 percent of total expenditure, as of July 31, 2017, the city’s employment costs accounted for 63,3 percent of total expenditure.

“Employment costs constituted an average of 50,32 percent of Harare City Council’s total expenditure over a five-year period.

“Half of the city’s total expenditure on employment costs presents questions as to whether a local authority exist to provide services or to employ people,” read part of the report.

According to the report expenditure for repairs and maintenance averaged 7,7 percent while the water budget averaged 12 percent of the cities expenses.

Zimbabwe’s local authorities have been in a fix as most of the revenue they collect goes towards paying backdated salaries and allowances.

A 2014 directive from the ministry of Local Government set that all councils should adhere to a 70:30 service delivery salary ratio,  however, it has never been adhered to by councils.

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