BULAWAYO City Council (BCC)’s monthly revenue has gone down by about 60%, following the directive by government to local authorities to cancel debts owed by residents.
BY MUSA DUBE
Newly sworn-in Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo said the city’s revenue had gone down to US$3 million from US$7 million per month.
Just before the July 31 harmonised election, Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo ordered all local authorities to scratch off outstanding debts from ratepayers dating back February 2009, a move that some observers say was politically motivated.
Moyo said the BCC’s monthly revenue had gone done by about 60%, as residents were now hesitant to settle their bills.
“Revenue has not been flowing to the council as had been the case. The issue of cancellation of debts has had negative effects on the council revenue,” said Moyo. “I had a meeting with the city council financial director and he said prior to the directive for councils to scrap off the debts, the council used to collect in the range of about US$6 to US$7 million per month but soon after the directive to cancel debts, residents stopped paying and we are collecting an average of US$3 million per month.”
Moyo said due to poor revenue collection, the city was struggling to deliver quality service to residents due to financial constraints.
“The poor revenue is affecting service delivery and that has also delayed in the rehabilitation of roads,” said Moyo.
He also bemoaned that several government departments owed the city council millions of dollars in unpaid bills.
“Government departments owe us a lot of money. Sometimes they pay but sometimes they don’t,” said Moyo. “At one time, minister Chombo came here and we said to him government departments are not paying and we want our money but he looked at us and said ‘you yourself as Bulawayo, how much do you owe the government?”