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Bulawayo City Council proposes US$263 million budget

by Staff reporter
31 Oct 2023 at 05:37hrs | Views
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) yesterday proposed a standstill US$263 million gender-responsive budget for next year while prioritising service delivery and predicting a stable economic environment in 2024.

The capital budget is pegged at US$96 million while the local authority expects to generate US$167 million in revenue.

To address the city's water challenges, the council is prioritising the rehabilitation of the existing water and sewerage reticulation system, replacing aged infrastructure, constructing the Cowdray Park Water Reservoir, and recycling water for non-potable uses.

BCC is also targeting to increase the public sector investment in water and sanitation infrastructure while improving demand control measures for water such as smart meters and drilling additional boreholes. Presenting the budget at the council chambers, Finance and Development Committee chairperson Councillor Mpumelelo Moyo said during the budget consultation process with stakeholders, concerns were raised over the lack of effective service delivery.

"The proposed budget is key in unlocking service delivery and infrastructure maintenance. This year has seen the official exchange rates increase from 1:700 to over 1:6 000. Government is implementing policy interventions to bring costs down which may determine the need for tariff adjustments in 2024," he said.

"However, there was a realisation that any further increase of the current US dollar tariffs would burden the citizenry of Bulawayo and exacerbate their indebtedness to the council."

Clr Moyo said for the local authority to achieve the aspirations of residents and stakeholders, it needs adequate resources and investment which talks to the US$167 million proposed revenue budget for the year 2024.

"Proposed activities in 2024 which were presented to stakeholders during the consultation meetings will go a long way in achieving the vision and mission of the city and satisfying the needs of our society. The capital budget is proposed at US$96 million, an eight percent reduction from the 2023 budget," he said.

Clr Moyo said while the council indexed its budget in US dollars, residents still have an option of settling their bills in the currency of their choice since the country has adopted a multi-currency system.

 "The 2024 budget will maintain the US$ tariffs at last year's levels. Monthly bills will continue to be based on US dollar tariffs but translated to local currency at the time of billing. Payment of bills will continue to be in all currencies tradable in our country," he said.

 "Residents and stakeholders are encouraged to pay their dues in order to realise the targets set out in this budget. Council will explore and implement more effective and efficient strategies in debt collection during 2024."

Clr Moyo said the council budgeted nearly US$63 million towards governance and administration, while water, sanitation, and hygiene were allocated US$ 66 million.

Social services are expected to gobble US$83 million with US$29,5 million being channelled towards road rehabilitation.

A total of US$18 million will go towards public safety and security and within that bracket, the local authority wants to buy guns at US$23 000.

"Council has set aside US$18 419 848 under this programme which covers emergency services, security services and public lighting. US$2 million will be spent on capital projects while US$16 million will be spent on recurrent expenditure," said Clr Moyo.

"Emergency services have been allocated a capital budget of US$76 000 for procurement of first responder life-saving equipment. Security services have been allocated US$23 000 to purchase firearms while public lighting has been allocated US$1, 9 million to be used in installing solar-powered street lights, 400 tower lights, and traffic lights."

Clr Moyo said council capital projects will be funded through external borrowing, revenue collections, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration, devolution, and donations.

He said service delivery continues to be subdued due to financial constraints as witnessed by the low budget expenditure.

"Residents and stakeholders bemoaned deteriorating service delivery. They desire to have roads rehabilitated as opposed to pothole patching; sewer blockages permanently addressed or attended to expeditiously, and water losses from leaks and bursts reduced," said Clr Moyo.

"They want pipes to be replaced with new ones; functioning street lights on every road with all tower lights working properly.'

Clr Moyo said in crafting next year's budget the council had to be gender sensitive in planning and used the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency Population Census Report in   budgeting.

He said the census report shows that Bulawayo has 665 940 of which 307 983 (46 percent) are male and 357 957 (54 percent) are female.

"Given a sex ratio of 86 males for every 100 females, the import of this figure is that council cannot ignore gender issues in its budget," he said.

Clr Moyo said the council budgeted for the provision of sanitary pads to adolescent girls in schools while maternal and men's health lifestyles programmes were also budgeted for.

He said US$3,4 million has been budgeted towards natural resources conservation and management and green city initiatives while US$2 million will be spent on digitalising the local economy.

"Council has introduced a number of innovative programmes to improve people's lives and encourage and expand the usage of e-services and ICT. This is in line with the council's vision of becoming a smart city in line with vision 2030,' said Clr Moyo.

He said US$2,6 million has been set aside for the capital budget to procure hardware such as personal computers, laptops, tablets, printers, servers, hardware for prepaid metering, and other peripheral computer-related equipment to enhance the council's digital interaction with stakeholders.

Source - The Chronicle