BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
HARARE City Council has called on central government to give them latitude to peg rates according to prevailing interbank rates, saying service delivery was being compromised by poor revenue inflows owing to a stagnant budget that was approved when the bond note was pegged at par with United States dollar.
Speaking to the media on Friday, chairperson of the information and publicity committee Barnabas Ndira said prices of goods and services were now beyond the reach of the council.
“We are now owed more than $987 million by residents, churches, government and businesses. It is sad to note that revenue continues to decline at a time prices of goods and services are spiralling out of control and quickly going beyond the reach of our stagnant budget,” he said.
“Our service providers are pegging their prices based on the interbank exchange rate, while our rates, which are our biggest revenue source, remain unchanged because they are subject to ministerial approval. We feel it is high time we are given the flexibility to follow the interbank market heartbeat.”
Ndira said the water treatment chemical bill was now over $35 million, but their monthly expected collections were $24 million.
“Our expenditure has overshot our collections in just one service delivery mandate — water. This is because suppliers of treatment chemicals are indexing their prices against the interbank rate. Monthly, council requires $8 million for fuel and $12 million for salaries, among other costs.”
Council yesterday said it had run out of water treatment chemicals and would shut down its waterworks if no bailout is given by tomorrow.
“Harare City Council has run out of key water treatment chemicals and is at the moment stretching the little available amounts to treat limited supplies of water. If no urgent bailout is given between tomorrow (today) and Tuesday, management will be forced to shut down Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant,” council tweeted.
“Council is buying foreign currency on the runaway interbank exchange market against a stagnant and inflexible budget.”
Ndira also said $37 million availed by the government last week was not enough for the council to meet its obligations, saying the government is supposed to provide 50% of expenditure for services rendered at council clinics and hospitals.
He also emphasised the need for the city to collect road funds, saying Zimbabwe National Road Administration allocates the local authority amounts that were inadequate for road maintenance and construction.
Ndira implored residents to pay rates to enable the capital to reach its goal of becoming a world-class city by 2025.