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Corruption weighs heavy on local councils

MEMBERS of Parliament are demanding action after audit report revealed consistency of massive flaws in local government spending due to fraud, financial error and legal claims.

The parliamentary oversight committee on local authorities’ accounts—LAAC attributed fraud and abuse of public funds in the councils to inconsistency by the central government in disbursing development grants, bureaucracies in paying off contractors and poor harmonization of the EPICOR accounting system.

In its report to the parliament over the annual audit reports of the controller and auditor general for the financial year ending June 2019, LAAC demanded that the government must act tough to control misuse of public funds in local authorities.

The committee accused local councils of violating the public procurement regulations and none compliance to the use of POS machines.

“Some councils have been withholding NHIF contributions and other statutory charges,” said Vedasto Ngombale, the committee chairman.

Adding, “The same councils do not also claim value-added tax on projects implemented by development partners.”

CAG Charles Kichere’s report detailed massive misuse of public resources through overpayments, payments without contracts, payments without actual delivery of services or goods and generally disregarding public procurement guidelines in government and its institutions.

Mr Ngombale cited the CAG report in the financial year 2018/19 that 26 councils received 22.8bn/- as the excess amount from the budget initially allocated.

The amount, according to the committee, was 33 per cent equivalent to the total budget planned for development budget in local councils.

“These councils are not well prepared to spend the extra amount. Nevertheless, the same council face shortage of workforce, making it easy to mismanage the public funds,” he said, calling on the government to only release development grants on time and as specified in the budget allocations.

During the same financial year, at least 157 councils did not receive 556.8bn/- grant for development. Records also show that in 2015/16 at least 620bn/- or 61 per cent of the grants wasn’t released to councils.

“In the last financial year, some 258.6bn/- was not released, affecting councils’ efforts to implement development programmes,” he said.

Despite financial errors, the local authority’s accounts committee acknowledged that there have been some improvements in public fund spending among councils across the country.

In addition, the committee says the development could be reflected with enhanced social service—not limited— to education, health, security, defence, transportation and logistics.

The overall level of corruption and corruption compliance also has increased.

A report by the Transparency International in 2019 said corruption rates in local government authorities dropped to 10 per cent in 2019 from 25 per cent in 2015.

Equally, the rate in which people provide bribes to access service at local councils has dropped to 18 per cent from 25 per cent during the year under review.

Muleba South MP, Prof Anne Tibaijuka (CCM) and Mary Chatanda (Korogwe- Urban, CCM) lauded the government for disbursing development funds in local councils that have helped improve service delivery in the communities.

The MPs also called on the government to allocate the required budget to be able to address the audit query.

THE government has issued a six-month ultimatum to ...

Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter in Dodoma

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