NLGFC decries ‘piecemeal projects’ by local councils

National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) says it has noted with concern the “piecemeal projects” local councils are implementing using the financial resources they receive annually through various funding windows.

NLGFC Chairperson, Richard Chapweteka, has since urged local councils to consolidate the resources into one basket in order to implement “complete package” projects that are immediately operational and have impact.

Chapweteka spoke Wednesday in Lilongwe during a quarterly coordination meeting for local councils which the Ministry of Local Government organized, bringing together district commissioners (DCs), city and town and municipal chief executive officers, mayors, district chairpersons and other council officials and stakeholders in order to review the operations of local councils.

Chapweteka said the combined money the councils are provided through Constituency Development Fund (CDF), District Development Fund (DDF), Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF) and Governance to Enable Service Delivery (GESD) project and other sources is more than these small projects would require.

“A council, for instance, constructs a classroom block at a school, instead of four blocks. Or constructs a health facility. But there is no water, staff houses, toilets, furniture, among others. How can we operate like that? Actually, the council comes back years later to provide additional amenities. We need instant complete package projects, with solar power, if possible,” said Chapweteka.

He added: “Imagine Lilongwe which has 19 constituencies. It means the council receives MK1.9 billion through CDF alone. Then add GESD, DDF, IDF and other sources. That would be over MK4 billion for development projects in one year.

With that amount, we would be able to identify eight projects worth MK500 million each, rather than implementing MK15 million or MK20 million projects. Let us have landmark projects so everybody can see there is real development. That is how we will help change the face of Malawi”.

Chapweteka emphasized this is the path the government wants to take, urging local councils to change their way of doing things. He warned NLGFC will stop approving proposals for piecemeal projects presented by councils.

Malawi Local Government Association Executive Director, Hadrod Zeru Mkandawire, whose association is the umbrella body for all local authorities, promptly backed Chapweteka, adding councils must be encouraged to implement impactful and meaningful projects.

“Consolidating funds in councils has been our long-time call for we believe development projects have to respond to the district and urban development plans. We need to have one funding stream which is responding to these development blueprints,” Mkandawire said.

The quarterly coordination meeting for local councils is reportedly a new initiative, aimed at discussing new developments in the local government sector so that players in the sector are on the same page in delivering their core mandate.

Minister of Local Government, Professor Blessings Chinsinga, who was the guest of honour, said the meetings will also give his ministry an opportunity to hear from DCs and other staff about their challenges.

“Since I became Minister, I have spent time articulating my vision on the basis of what already exists on the ground. These meetings will also help us to figure out our strategic policy direction and guidance in order to deliver our core mandate,” Chinsinga said.

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