Local authorities call for MW2063 realization funding, government demands efficiency

Local government authorities, faced with the problem of inadequate funds compounded by the absence of fiscal devolution from the central government, have asked for more financial support to, among others, have world-class urban centres as stipulated in the Malawi 2063 (MW2063) vision.

Through their umbrella body, Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA), the councils have also demanded stricter enforcement of by-laws that run development, including regulation of illegal settlements.

Minister Chimwendo Banda addressing the gathering

MALGA President, Davie Maunde, made the sentiments at the association’s 17th Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Salima, which ended Thursday.

The AGA was held under the theme: Gavalnazing Actions for Building Resilient and Committed Local Government Authorities Towards Malawi 2063 Amidist Prevailing Socio – Economic Challenges.

Maunde said inadequate funding has “tied the hands” of local governments to meaningfully contribute towards the realization of MW2063.

“Huge financing gaps still exist. This is where the government and development partners need to come in to complement the efforts of local authorities”.

Minister Chimwendo Banda touring a pavilion

Apparently, the government has an obligation under section 150 of the Constitution to ensure that councils have adequate resources to discharge their constitutional and legislative mandates, such as contributing to the attainment of MW2063.

The Decentralization Policy of 1998 also dictates that government shall transfer a minimum of five percent of annual net revenue to local authorities as “unconditional grant”.

However, the problem, according to MALGA Executive Director Hadrod Zeru Mkandawire, is that “the central government thinks the five percent is that money which it gives to councils for ORT, benefits and salaries and emoluments”.

He reiterated that the two sides need to discuss these issues “so that we are on the same page”.

Mkandawire said the AGA, therefore, aimed at building a “community of practice” that even in the face of inadequate resources, local governments can still be innovative and effectively contribute towards the realization of MW2063.

“Nkhotakota District Council, for instance, brought practice, showing us that it is possible, especially on urbanization and industrialization.

“Nsanje has reserved resources to build a factory for processing tangerines into juice. We believe the continued sharing of such practices will enable others to emulate”.

Minister of Local Government, Unity and Culture, Richard Chimwendo Banda, said the government will give councils the financial support they require on the basis that they embrace efficiency.

“The Malawi 2063 recognises and identifies local governments as central to the attainment of the transformational agenda, particularly on urbanization which falls under Pillar 3.

“Some councils are performing well and on track. Others are lagging behind. Much as financial and technical support is required, we will continually ask them to be efficient.

“Government wants councils to deliver. Effective social service delivery is what people want”.

According to MALGA, Machinga is another district council which is doing well amid resource constraints, having gone into public private partnerships with companies such as Innobuild Limited on urbanization agenda. There is also Mzuzu City Council which is working on a special economic zone with the support of partners.

The 17th general assembly also attracted vice presidents and executive secretaries of national associations of local governments from Botswana, Zambia and South Africa.

The AGA was financed by so many MALGA partners, including: UNICEF, Action Aid, TEVETA, Prime Insurance Limited, Innobuild Limited, Malawi Revenue Authority, MASM, NGO Regulatory Authority, Landirani Gifts, Praise Screen Printers and Sigelege Beach Resort.

The MALGA general assembly is the biggest policy and decision-making structure for the association, bringing together all mayors, chairpersons, district commissioners and chief executive officers, among other delegates.

It is organized within the concept of representative democracy and framework of MALGA Constitution and strategic plan for the period 2019 – 2024.

The assembly also serves as a community of practice for sharing best practices on local governance and local development. Further, it serves as a platform for partners working at the local level and or with local authorities to share best practices, success stories and challenges.

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