Editor's Comment

Council levies: Residents should pay

THE lack of revenue is a challenge that has dogged councils countrywide for a long time now.
Due to the lack of funds, councils have failed to deliver sufficient service to residents, failing on the duty for which they exist.
Councils have been heavily dependent on government funding, without which they would not be able to limp along.
Some councils have been unable to meet their obligations to their former employees, like retirement benefits, because they have no funds to pay them.
However, a casual scan of the panorama shows that there are a number of opportunities from which councils can realise some financial benefit for their own good.
Each town in Zambia is unique and it is this uniqueness that presents a variety of opportunities for councils to raise their own income to supplement government finding.
Let us take, for instance, Lusaka, with a high population, which, among other things, has resulted in the high number of vending on any available space.
Some towns support serious agricultural activities while others are commercial in nature.
It is from this point that we want to agree with President Lungu for urging the councils to enforce their statues so that they can collect revenue to beef up their coffers.
Speaking in Livingstone when he opened the 59th Local Government Association of Zambia annual general meeting, Mr Lungu said local authorities have statutes with all forms of levies, which they can implement to raise revenue.
The councils did not need to wait for the President to advise them what to do to raise funds because, like he said, the statutes have not been cancelled.
All they needed to do was to implement them.
We are aware that council officials are well travelled and they have come to know how some of their col-leagues, especially in Africa, raise funds for their coffers.
Among the levies that stood out was the crop levy from which some councils like Kaoma District Council, were able to fund their activities and meet its obligations to workers.
We remember how the Chipata City Council raised revenue from its residents who depended on bicycles to earn a living in view of the high number of bicycles in the district.
Some districts have the privilege of sitting on the banks of water bodies like rivers and lakes and it is up to them to exploit ways of raising funds from the prevailing economic activities.
Sand quarrying is one activity that is gaining popularity, given the construction activities that are taking place around us.
We realise there could be some complications in the implementation of levies and we want to urge councils to work out clear modalities of implementing them.
The enforcement of council levies cannot be a success if those who are going to be levied do not comply.
We want them to know that it is their responsibility to pay, just as we do when we buy an item in a shop.
All those residents who will be required to pay the levies should do so if they want to see improved service from the councils in their localities.
The responsibility is twofold: the council should enforce, and residents should comply. Our councils will be back on their feet again.

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