BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Bulawayo City Council has told Finance minister Mthuli Ncube that delays by government in approving budgets is crippling service delivery as its revenues are eroded by inflation.
Kimpton Ndimande, Bulawayo City Council’s financial director, told Ncube at an event to review the supplementary budget organised by Alpha Media Holdings in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Economic Society, that the local authority’s supplementary budget that is yet to be approved by the government had already been rendered inadequate.
“We are running a budget deficit of around $24 million on social services and those are services that ideally should be funded by government, but we don’t have any support,” he said.
“Another one that I want to mention is the issue of the volatile economic situation that we are in.
“As we speak, our supplementary budget hasn’t been approved and it was a paltry amount of 42%. Can you imagine what it is now?”
In May, Bulawayo passed a supplementary budget that proposed to increase rates by 45%. The budget will increase this year’s financial expenditure plan from $116 599 243 to $165 570 925.
Ndimande appealed to the government to allow councils to implement decisions such as budget reviews to suit the inflationary environment.
“So can we, in that sector, have the latitude to react quickly to the changing circumstances within the economy so that we can still offer our services in a quicker manner so that we do support the private sector?” he said.
Ndimande said the 2% tax on electronic transactions was hitting the local authority hard.
“Then the famous 2% tax on transactions, you know as a sector we are paying this twice because the private sector passes that 2% to us and then when we pay the private sector we then again pay the 2%,” he said.
“Our prayer to the minister is that we be exempted from this 2% tax.”
The council official also appealed to government to allow the local authority to import its own fuel.
“As a city, we have the capacity to store 100 000 litres of each commodity,” he said. “At the moment we are running out of fuel and we fail to offer the services.”
In response, Ncube said council was allowed to import its own fuel, but was mum on the approval of the supplementary budget and requests for an exemption from the 2% tax.
The Local Government ministry approves budgets for local authorities.