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Proposed BCC budget for 2022: $12 000 a month for rates in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter
03 Oct 2021 at 08:14hrs | Views
THE proposed 2022 budget by the City of Bulawayo will see residents in some places paying as much as $12 000 for rates only, before factoring in water charges as the local authority targets to introduce various fees increases ranging between 155 percent and 687 percent.

This will come at a time when some residents are complaining of high bills resulting in most of them failing to pay.

The local authority last week announced the proposed budget where unlike in previous years, instead of a blanket percentage increase, council intends to introduce different percentage increments for various services. According to the proposed figures residents will pay 155 percent more for rates and rentals, 170 percent more for water, 300 percent more for refuse collection, 160 percent more for fixed sewerage charge, 170 percent more for the pipeline charge, 450 more percent on licences, 250 more percent for rents, 450 percent more for fees and 109 percent more for income interest.

Residents will also pay 40 percent more in grants, 650 percent more for sales and 687 percent more in other income sundry.

The local authority further revealed that according to the tariff increase, residents in Ward One will pay $12 146 in rates alone before they factor in water usage.  Ward One covers most parts of the Central Business District.

Ward Two residents will pay $5 806, Ward Three and Five, $8 025, Ward Four; $10 878, Ward Six; $7 391, Wards Seven $3 451 and Ward Eight, 10,11,12,14,16,22,23, 24,25,26 and 27, $3 578. As for residents in Ward Nine they will pay $3 594 while those in Ward 13; $3 229 and those living in wards15,17,18,19,20,21,28 and 29 will pay monthly tariffs of $3 324. What it means is that residents from affluent suburbs will pay more, with residents from western suburbs having the least increase.

Giving his views on the proposed budget, economic analyst Mr Ntokozo Tshuma said the percentage increase will mean that the charges will be beyond the reach of many residents.

"According to their financial performance report for the six months ended 30 June 2021, the local authority debtors amounted to $1,77 billion and if residents were struggling to pay $1 188 how will they manage to pay $3 578, when there has been no improvement in the macro-economic environment and earnings, that is, residents sources of income. The local authority must also consider that these residents are also impacted by the same macro-economic environment. The net effect is that the local authority may continue having a low debtor's turnover ratio and this will affect its ability to obtain working capital loans from financial institutions," said Mr Tshuma.

He noted that the increase in interest to 109 percent may compound defaulting residents' woes, as those that cannot afford to meet the new tariffs will bear the brunt of the interests.

"One positive though that I liked in the proposed budget was the proposed ring fencing of the revenue collected from informal traders for re-investment in informal trading infrastructure which may potentially impact this important sector positively. The proposed budget continues to rely heavily on income generated from rates and utilities. Where is the income from the local authority's investments such as Ingwebu Breweries and other City of Kings Business Ventures. How are these investments contributing to the local authority's fiscus?" he asked.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) coordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu concurred with Mr Tshuma's sentiments noting that the proposed tariffs were too high for most ratepayers.

"We are still analysing the proposal by council and will have something concrete by next (this) week as our experts are going through both the budget performance report and the proposed 2022 budget. However, from the figures that were presented to us, those tariffs are too high and will instead see the increase of council debtors as a lot of people won't manage to pay," said Mr Ndlovu.

Speaking during a consultative meeting with the media last week, the Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, noted that the proposed budget was the fairest which they could come up with.

"Yes, we have some residents who have said these figures are too much, of which we will then go back and reconsider our submissions to our stakeholders. However, this is the fairest budget that we have done as a council," said Mr Dube.

Source - The Sunday News