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Bulawayo City Council demands 80% of rates in forex

by Staff reporter
18 Feb 2024 at 09:13hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has passed a resolution compelling residents and businesses to pay 80 percent of their rates in foreign currency, arguing that service providers were demanding forex.

The motion has, however, put council and residents at crossroads with residents calling for Government to intervene. According to a confidential council report, initially the directive was meant to come to effect when the local authority effects debt recovery measures but councillors instead decided that it be the new policy for all council bills. Effectively residents will be paying just 20 percent in local currency.

Confirming the decision, the Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube said they had no choice but to implement the move as most of their service providers were demanding that they pay 80 percent of their charges in foreign currency.

"It is a clear directive, if a resident is billed US$100 they must come with US$80 in hard currency and the US$20 will be the one that will be paid in local currency using the day's bank rate. This move was necessitated by the fact that all our service providers are demanding 100 percent forex or 80 percent forex to those that still take local currency. The decision has already come into effect as councillors have passed the motion. This is all necessitated by the fact that we also need to provide effective services to our residents and that is the only way we can remain afloat," said Mr Dube.

Questioned whether this was a legal directive considering the country's Treasury laws, the Town Clerk said there was nothing amiss as the United States dollar was considered legal tender.

"Statutory 142 of 2019 is clear on the use of multicurrency so there is nothing wrong which we are doing, people can still pay the 20 percent in local currency, everything we are doing is above board and legal," said Mr Dube.

The move has elicited a wave of disapproval, with residents expressing apprehension over the implications of the new policy.

The decision has further sparked fears of exacerbating financial strain on residents, particularly those who may face difficulties in accessing foreign currency.

Bulawayo United Residents Association (Bura) chairperson, Mr Winos Dube expressed shock at the directive saying that showed that the local authority was not pro-poor but was turning themselves into an elitist grouping.

"The economy of the country is not yet dollarised, who are they to dollarise the economy, this is unacceptable. The Government must intervene in this madness. Workers are not even getting foreign currency, where do they expect them to get it to pay the rates. Consider even the elderly and the pensioners, this is a serious crisis, who did they consult, they just want to ensure the suffering of people," said Mr Dube.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) secretary for administration, Mr Thembelani Dube also called for Government intervention saying the resolution was illegal.

"As residents we know that Zimbabwe has a multi-currency regime and services should be charged using any currency pegged as per the auction rate, now what they are doing is coming up with their own policies which are contrary to what the country's laws say, meaning they are now in their own country which is not Zimbabwe, even the country's national budget was clear in terms of the multi-currency, this is honestly unacceptable," said Mr Dube.

Source - The Sunday News
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