Government taken to task over grassroots development funds

10Nov 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Government taken to task over grassroots development funds

According to the chairperson of the parliamentary Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC), Vedasto Ngombale Mwiru, the trend is worrying.

“It is important for the government to explain to this legislature why so many development projects have been halted, contrary to the expectations”, Ngombale Mwiru said when tabling his committee’s activities report here yesterday.

He called on the Minister for Finance and Planning, Philip Mpango, to give a statement on the matter, saying in the few weeks before the current parliamentary session began here, LAAC held discussions with representatives from 66 councils across the country and noted the irregular disbursement of development funds

According to the Kilwa North member of parliament, the committee also noted how many development projects in the councils were either incomplete, done below standard due to poor supervision, or stalled simply because the money had dried up.

He also recommended serious disciplinary action against leaders who failed to strongly supervise the development projects, causing monetary loss to the government.

“The late disbursement of funds leads to increased budgets for projects and opens avenues for untrustworthy leaders to divert project money to other activities,” Ngombale Mwiru added.

It was also noted that the government does not send 20 per cent general purpose grants allocated to the local government authorities as expected, he said.

Out of the 30 councils that appeared before the committee for questioning on the Controller and Audit General (CAG)’s 2013/14 report and 36 others questioned on the CAG 2014/15 report, not a single one reported receiving budgeted funds as planned.

The LAAC also raised concern over the disbursement of 10 per cent of loan revolving funds for every council, whereby out of the 164 councils interviewed on the 2014/15 CAG report, 112 did not receive the money, causing a debt of 17.7 billion/- in 11 councils alone.

“This show that some 17.7bn/- was not channeled to the targeted youth and women groups to help them expand their businesses,” Ngombale Mwiru said.

On the same note, the chairperson took issue with recently appointed district executive directors (DED), asserting that most of them don’t understand their roles.

He urged the government to conduct capacity-building training to acquaint them with their duties, noting that some are from the private sector or non-governmental organisations and don’t understand how the government operates.

For instance, some council leaders did not follow public procurement laws in purchasing various project materials and provision of services, causing losses to the local government authorities, Ngombale Mwiru stated.

He called on parliament to compel the government to provide a report on actions taken against such leaders and future plans to ensure local government authorities comply with the laws.

The LAAC also recommended that the CAG’s office conducts a special audit on councils with questionable purchase and service delivery records.