An update to "proposition two" that demonstrates further that local mining communities are not always being paid the little ground rates (by the way, we will be returning to these propositions when I get a chance, they are seven of them, I have only so far done three) :
Moomba member of parliament Vitalis Mooya has called on the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to investigate allegations that a permanent secretary in another ministry interfered with the payment of ground rates by a mining firm in Kalulushi.
But local government and housing permanent secretary Timothy Hakuyu has explained that his ministry and the Ministry of Commerce were discussing the issue to ensure that the mining firm settles the outstanding debt.
Commenting on revelations that a mining company in Kalulushi had not paid ground rates amounting to K9 billion, Mooya said there was need for authorities to get to the bottom of the issue and ensure that the law was upheld.
The Parliamentary Committee on Local Governance, Housing and Chiefs’ Affairs was recently
on the Copperbelt and Central provinces to monitor the performance of councils and establish the challenges being faced.
The committee concluded that as a result of pronouncements uttered by President Rupiah Banda concerning the payment of ground rates, most councils were facing resistance from property owners to settle ground rates.
The committee was informed that the mining firm declined to pay the K9 billion on instructions from the commerce permanent secretary to the Kalulushi council officials not to push the client for payment.
Mooya wondered if any permanent secretary had the authority to interfere with the payment of rates, as stipulated by law. “There is a lot of resistance from people, including companies, who are have billions in rates default. When we were in Kalulushi we learnt that some government officials are actually interfering with the process of rates collection by local authorities and this has had a negative impact on the councils which are already struggling to survive,” said Mooya.
But Hakuyu said no government official had the authority to interfere with the collection of rates by councils. He said only his ministry had the mandate to deal with issues of rates. “The Ministry of Local Government and Housing is already discussing with the commerce ministry to see how the investor in Kalulushi can settle the K9 billion owed to the council. The company will still have to pay the debt, but what we are trying to conclude is the mode of payment,” said Hakuyu.
President Banda made statements two months ago that Patriotic Front-(PF) led councils on the Copperbelt were turning rates into rentals and suggested that property owners were paying more than the stipulated rates. The statement has sparked criticism as councils are facing resistance from property owners in the payment of rates