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MDC Alliance council hikes Bulawayo rates by 400%

by Elliot Ziwira
18 Dec 2020 at 06:09hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has approved Bulawayo City Council (BCC)'s $551 million supplementary budget which will see tariffs increasing by nearly 400 percent.

The new tariffs will reflect in ratepayers January bills. The rates are likely to be further adjusted by 421 percent in the event that the proposed 2021 budget of more than $16 billion is approved. BCC proposed that the budget be reviewed after every three months in view of the changes in the macro-economic environment.

Presenting the 2020 supplementary budget and the 2021 proposed budget virtually in the council chambers in October, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Finance and Development Committee chairperson Councillor Mlandu Ncube said rising costs due to Covid-19 related expenses had prompted council to come up with a supplementary budget.

He said Covid-19 caused council to incur an unbudgeted costs as the municipality had to equip itself to fight the global pandemic.

According to a council schedule, a resident in the western suburbs who is paying an average of $200 for rates per month will be required to pay about $900 in January while those in eastern suburbs will likely fork out between $2 000 and $3 000. Residents in eastern suburbs are paying between $400 and $1 000 in rates depending on the suburb.

In a statement yesterday, Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube confirmed the new tariffs.

"The City of Bulawayo would like to advise members of the public and its valued customers that the 2020 supplementary budget has been approved. Charges will be going up by 372 percent and the new charges will be reflected in the January 2021 bills," he said.

"The City of Bulawayo would like to encourage residents to continue paying their bills on time. Your continued support is greatly appreciated."

BCC said the new tariffs are meant to ensure effective service delivery. It said the macro-economic environment has left the city with no option but to increase its budget.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association spokesperson Mr Ntokozo Tshuma said the tariffs were too high for residents who are already struggling to pay the existing rates.

"As much as we are cognisant of the fact that everything has gone up, the rate at which council is hiking its tariffs leaves a lot to be desired.

What the council should appreciate is that most residents are in the informal sector since most companies have closed and are struggling to fend for their families including paying bills," he said.

Mr Tshuma said residents were aware of the challenges faced by council in terms of service delivery because some of its suppliers are charging in foreign currency. He therefore urged council to consider venturing into other businesses to augment its revenue base instead of just relying on rate payers.

"In an economy that has no industry resulting in a high unemployment rate, it is difficult to depend on rates," he said.

Mr Tshuma said during consultations residents outrightly rejected the proposed budget and are therefore surprised that council submitted the same budget to Government without amending it.

Source - chroncile