By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO mayor Solomon Mguni yesterday said there is no going back on proposed increase on rates and tariffs in the face of inflation, despite residents’ resistance to a review of the city’s 2019 budget.
Mguni said council cannot “watch Bulawayo die” and justified the proposed 56% rates hike, arguing its 2019 ZWL$212 million budget has been ravaged by inflation that has seen costs of goods and services skyrocketing.
Council has been holding consultative meetings, seeking a review of the budget to ZWL$475 million to hedge against rising costs of goods and services in the face of the harsh economic climate.
“We cannot then watch Bulawayo die in the face of these harsh economic fundamentals which everyone can see. We need to take measures, and sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions to ensure we continue providing a service to the city,” Mguni said.
The local authority is already owed in excess of ZWL$184 million by ratepayers.
“It’s (need for a review) is informed by the inflation rate that is in the country. You will recall that in 2018 our proposed 2019 budget was based on a 1:1 parity between the United States dollar and the bond note. However, there are many developments which have caused council to think of reviewing the budget.
“In December month-on-month inflation was 49%, and then came the monetary policy statement in February which floated and devalued the bond note and so it meant that our budget was also devalued. It is no longer sustainable, only a review will see council being able to manage to provide a service,” the mayor added.
Last week, vendors besieged council offices, protesting against council’s proposal to increase vending licence fees. The new vending fees are contained in council’s supplementary budget proposal.
In January, Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube told Southern Eye that the city was technically insolvent because of the unforgiving harsh economic climate.
A latest report of council’s finance and development committee shows that the local authority owes various service providers a combined total ZWL$180 985 634.