The effects of a unitary state on local authority revenue mobilization in Zambia: a study of Lusaka, Chongwe and Kafue local councils.
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ABSTRACT Most countries worldwide, including Zambia, have adopted a unitary system of government. In such countries, the central government exercises greater control over local authorities‟ operation, including revenue mobilization. The overall objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a unitary state on local authority revenue mobilization in Zambia. The specific objectives were; to examine the adequacy of the various sources of revenue for local authorities; to investigate the extent at which central government use the legal and institutional framework to control local authority revenue mobilization; to investigate the effects of the central government control on local authority revenue mobilization; to make policy recommendations that would ensure that central government policies improve local authority‟s revenue mobilization. This was an exploratory research and was a one-time case study. This research was confined to Lusaka City council, Chongwe municipal council and Kafue town council. Qualitative approach was used in this research. Primary and Secondary sources of data was used in this research. The sample size of this study comprised 18 key informants; 4 from each council, 3 from the Ministry of Local Government, 2 from the Ministry of Finance and one Official from the Decentralization Secretariat.The two key informants were purposively selected. It made use of semi-structured interviews to collect qualitative data, which were analysed using content analysis and thematic analysis. In regard to the first specific objective on the adequacy of various sources of local authority‟s revenue, the findings reveal that the sources of revenue for local authorities are in two categories; these are traditional and non-traditional sources of revenue. Both traditional and non-traditional sources of revenue for local authorities are inadequate to facilitate service provision in local authorities. In regard to the Second specific objective on the extent at which central government use the legal and institutional framework to control local authority revenue mobilization, the findings reveal that central government has to a larger extent, used the legal and the institution framework to control local authorities‟ revenue Mobilization. In line with the third specific objective on the effects v | P a g e of Central Government Controls on local authority revenue mobilization, the findings reveal that central government controls have had positive and negative effects. The findings reveal that central government has played an important role into preventing local authorities from venturing in public-private partnerships that provide more profit to the private company at the expense of local authority‟s revenue base. Central government has also helped local authorities find ways on how to make residents tax compliant. The findings also reveal that central government controls have helped local authorities venture into operations that have helped them generate more revenue. The findings further reveal that central government controls have hindered effective revenue mobilization in local authorities, as conditions attached to local grants have prevented local authorities from investing so as to generate more revenue. Delays in approving proposed levies and rates by the Minster of Local Government have prevented local authorities from generating the required revenue on time. The findings further reveal that the Minster of Local Government at times takes long in approving partnerships that would award local authorities more revenue. The findings have also shown that directives from central government to reduce user fees have resulted in reduction of local authority‟s revenue. To ensure effective revenue mobilization, government should consider revising the Acts of parliament so as to allow local authorities urgent decisions regarding revenue mobilization without seeking central government approval. Furthermore, the Ministry of local government and local authorities should work together in reducing political interference on matters related to local authority‟s revenue mobilization. Keywords: unitary state, local authority revenue mobilization, central government controls, effects
The University of Zambia