Residents ZWL$5.5bn debt suffocates Byo

June 23, 2022

TENDAI BHEBE IN BULAWAYO 

 

The Bulawayo City Council says it is owed more than ZWL$$5.5bn by residents, a situation which is severely comprising service delivery in the city.

Bulawayo residents will this month be charged tariffs in foreign currency with the local authority saying the current charges have been rendered inadequate by the prevailing economic conditions.

Revenue Financial Services Department Finance manager Qiniso Ndlovu said residents are not paying their monthly bills on time. The actual performance up to April on the accrued income is ZWL$5.2bn. Collections are at ZWL$3.3bn, Ndlovu said.

“These levels of collections show a number of city residents are not paying their bills on time. This affects delivery of service in that the city is unable to procure the inputs for service delivery and pay for them timeously,” she said.

Ndlovu said the greatest debt is sitting with domestic debtors, who owe 62% by industry and commerce.

“Thus it affects the level of service that residents can enjoy. Debtors for the city total  ZWL$5.5bn at the end of April 2022 billing. This is broken down into various wards.

“The greatest debt is sitting with domestic debtors, who owe 62 percent followed by industry and commerce, then the government also owes the city under the parastatals and the ministries paid for by the Ministry of Finance,” she said.

Ndlovu said the local authority was not able to read meters from 2020 to June 2021.

“But it’s noteworthy to mention that from February 2020, the city was unable to read meters until June 2021 when meter reading was resumed. This led to a lengthy period of estimations and a number of queries arose when we started reading the meters.

“We adjusted for the over and under estimation in the period that meters were not read and most of the bills are now accurate,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bulawayo residents are calling on the city council to reconsider its decision of charging its tariffs in foreign currency with effect from this month, saying a majority of them will not afford to pay their bills as they were already struggling even with the use of the local currency.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association secretary Thembelani Dube says they will challenge the local authority’s decision.

“Such a move by the Bulawayo City Council will be an albatross on the necks of the poor residents of Bulawayo and as Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association we are going to be challenging such a move. The residents of Bulawayo cannot cope with such increases,” Dube said.

The local authority says the current charges have been rendered inadequate by the prevailing economic conditions.

The exchange rate has been unstable on the auction platform and the parallel market.

 

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