BULAWAYO councillors have rejected a proposed debt recovery system that would have seen employers garnishing their workers’ salaries and recover unpaid rates on behalf of the local authority.
Councillors demanded to have input in crafting the policy which has now been referred back to the finance and development committee.
The local authority crafted an 18-page council credit control and debt collection policy aimed at ensuring that “all money due and payable to the city in respect of rates, fees for services, charges, tariffs and interest which have accrued on any amounts due and payable in respect of the above and any collection charges are collected efficiently and promptly”.
According to the latest council report, councillor Norman Hlabani said the credit control policy could not at this stage be approved as there was need for wider consultations.
“Councillors should also have an input on the matter as they represented their local residents in the various wards. He (Hlabani), therefore, proposed and was duly seconded that the matter be referred back to the finance and development committee for further investigation, including the need for local councillors/other stakeholders to be consulted as appropriate,” reads part of the report.
Based on the draft policy, council’s long-term objectives include reducing debts by 4% annually, inculcate a culture of paying for services, minimise risk and proactively manage debts.
Council is owed over $80 million in unpaid bills by residents and government departments since June last year after government directed local authorities to write off debts.
The local authority blames poor service delivery on the failure by residents and government departments to clear their debts.
The credit document, if approved, would ensure that council employees are not in arrears for a period exceeding three months or money would be deducted from their salaries to clear the debts.
“Any person receiving a salary or allowances from City of Bulawayo may not be in arrears to the municipality for rates and consumer service charges for a period longer than three months and council may deduct any outstanding amounts from the person’s salary after this period.
“The City of Bulawayo shall liaise with the relevant persons . . . and their departmental representatives and issue the necessary salary deduction instruction where appropriate after compliance with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act,” the policy reads.