By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has hiked by 50% the cost of residential stands to hedge against inflation and lifted the suspension it had imposed on prospective homeowners buying stands using RTGS dollars. The local authority suspended the sale of housing stands in December 2018, owing to the volatile and unstable economic environment following the removal of the 1:1 United States Dollar to RTGS/bond note parity.
In March, council approved a pilot project to sell new stands in foreign currency, starting with Selborne Park, a development that was condemned by residents as discriminatory.
According to a latest report of council’s housing and community services committee, the local authority has since resolved to also sell stands in RTGS dollars, but with a 50% increase from previous charges.
“After having considered council’s intention to increase the revenue budget by 42,09% through a supplementary budget, as well as the annual inflation of 59,4% in February 2019, I (housing services director, Dictor Khumalo) further propose to lift the 2018 stand prices by 50%, so as to arrive at the new proposed stand prices,” the report read.
“In coming up with the new pricing mechanism, the affordability of the stands to the intended beneficiaries was of paramount importance. It was in this regard that I proposed to use the last approved stand prices, which had been in operation till December 2018, as the basis for determining the new stand prices in RTGS.
“The pricing policy for council stands was based on full cost recovery, on servicing costs for newly serviced residential stands. The full cost recovery basically meant that all costs involved in running a project were fully recouped.”
Bulawayo’s housing waiting list stands at over 120 000 units, but council has only managed to service less than 20 000 residential stands in the last 15 years, despite the growing demand for accommodation.