The business community in Bulawayo has endorsed the Bulawayo City Council’s (BCC) supplementary budget amid calls for the local authority to explore new revenue streams.
The local authority has been forced to push for a supplementary budget, amid indications that the current budget passed late last year has been eroded by inflation and currency rates distortions.
Discussing the municipality’s proposed supplementary budget at the Large City Hall, Tuesday, business people said increasing rates was not the solution hence council should come up with alternative ways of increasing revenue.
A local businessman, Tobias Moyo said the supplementary budget was a necessity because the council has a responsibility to deliver quality services.
“The budget is reasonable because service delivery has to be maintained. However, there is a need for the Council to engage with tertiary institutions to research on opening up other revenue streams.
“Council can also partner with the private sector who can help them generate more revenue,” said Moyo.
Another business owner Dumisani Ncube said the local authority should engage the government on subsidies.
“Let us ask the government for subsidies, countries like Sweden are doing it and are developed,” said Ncube.
He, however, said even if the increase is reasonable, Council had to consider that most people’s salaries had not been increased, which will make it difficult for residents to pay rates.
“Salaries never went up, businesses also never went up. It does not make sense to increase charges for those who are paying at the expense of those who have been defaulting. This will discourage the few people who have been paying their bills,” said Ncube.
Nhlanhla Mlilo from the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) lobbied the council to come up with alternative revenue collection measures.
“Council should come up with a mechanism to make sure that we will not come again in two months for another supplementary budget”.
Bulawayo Town Clerk Christopher Dube highlighted that the local authority was working on projects that could generate revenue for the municipality, although some were politically suppressed.
“Proposals include smart meters, deduction of money from ratepayers on other platforms such as electricity bills and dragging owing debtors to court.
“However, there are challenges as some of the strategies are not economic but politically motivated,” said Dube.