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Residents fret over council plans to increase rates

Bulawayo residents have expressed reservations at plans by the Bulawayo City Council ( BCC) to hike rates and tariffs when most ratepayers are failing to settle current bills.

The Bulawayo Residents Association BPRA acting coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu said that as residents they will reject any attempts by the local authority to table a supplementary budget.

“Rate payers are currently facing harsh economic challenges with little income or no earnings at all as the majority are unemployed,” said Ndlovu.

“Such a move will grossly leave residents deeply in debt as they will not be able to match their expenditures with disposable income.”

This comes after Bulawayo Mayor councillor Solomon Mguni said in January that the local authority might be forced to approach residents for a supplementary budget that will cushion against the rising cost of goods and services.

Mayor Mguni indicated that the current budget passed late last year has been eroded by inflation and currency rates distortions.

When asked how far the city council has gone with the implementation of supplementary budget Cllr Mguni told CITE they are yet to conduct consultations with ratepayers.

“ It is a council resolution to proceed with consultations and then after its for the executive management to implement the council resolution,” said Mguni.

“ We expect the consultations process to start this month because, as you know the exchange rates and prices of providing services to residents keeps skyrocketing.”

Meanwhile , BPRA said that they will engage BCC though they understand that the municipal budget has been eroded.

“ We need to come back to residents and map the way forward together,” lamented Ndlovu.

However , Ndlovu also indicated that the city council is out of touch with the reality and fails to understand the gravity of the matter pertaining economic hardships.

“ The council has done very little towards curbing wasteful spending and financial leakages as rate payers we saw no need for the council to spend huge sums of ratepayers money in entertaining a smallest delegation from Durban when the council is said to be struggling to procure chemicals for the treatment of water this is gross financial imprudence and wasteful spending”

“ Nothing has been done to rectify the huge salary bill which is above government policy relative to proportions of administrative expenditure against service delivery (30:70 proportion)”

Ndlovu also acknowledged that the delay by government to approve the 2019 budget is grossly affecting the local authority and said that with devolution such problems will be a thing of the past.

He continued by emphasising that the council is detached from the reality of ratepayers.

“Instead of jumping into a supplementary budget the council should adhere to control of aggregate expenditure to ensure affordability; that is, consistency with macroeconomic constraints”

“They should also be constant with effective means for achieving a resource allocation that reflects expenditure policy priorities, efficient delivery of public services and minimisation of the financial costs of budgetary management which are efficient budget execution and cash and debt management practises.”

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