Government has released KR42 million out of the KR58 million for the payment of salaries for council officers in division I, II and III for the months of April and May.
Ministry of Local Government and Housing Permanent Secretary Chileshe Mulenga says the funds will be disbursed to 82 councils to enable them pay April salaries.
Mr Mulenga said the disbursed funds will include statutory contributions to the local Authorities Superannuation Fund (LASF) and National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) as well as contributions to unions for unionized workers.
In a press statement made available to ZANIS in Lusaka today, Mr Mulenga explained that the monthly wage for the 82 councils is about KR29 million, with Lusaka City Council toppling the list with a monthly wage of about KR5 million followed by Ndola KR 2.1 million, Kitwe KR2 million and Livingstone City Councils KR 1.39 million respectively.
Mr Mulenga further explained that the balance from the disbursed KR42 million after paying the April salaries will be disbursed to some selected councils to enable them pay salaries and other statutory obligations for the month of May.
He has since advised councils to pay the salaries as soon as they receive the funding and use the disbursed funds only for the intended purposes.
The Local Government and Housing Permanent Secretary added that any council that might misapply the disbursed funds or any revenue for that matter risks severe sanctions.
He said government has decided to take up the responsibility of paying salaries for professional and technical staff in the councils to ensure that all councils regardless of resourced base have qualified and competent staff to take on the additional responsibility that would be devolved to the local authority under the decentralization programme.
Mr Mulenga noted that councils should therefore use the resources arising from savings, wage bill to the improvement of service delivery.
He further said his ministry will closely monitor the councils to ensure that the percentage of the wage bill that has been taken over by the government proportionately contributes to increased budgetary allocation towards service delivery.
He explains that the delay in processing payment for May salaries for all the councils has been caused by the need to include the newly employed officers by the councils on the pay roll so that they are also paid.
Mr Mulenga has however commended council workers countrywide for remaining patient adding that those that will not receive salaries by the end of this month should remain calm as the ministry engages with the treasury.
He has since advised all employees of local authorities to avoid being used by those seeking to increase industrial disharmony in a sector in which government is focused on improving delivery of service to the public.