BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has unveiled a credit control and debt collection policy that seeks to maintain predictable cashflows and allow for improved management of debtors, among others.
Council is owed about $221 million as of December 2019 broken down to $100 million by domestic debtors, $44 million by government, industry and commerce $72 million and $5 million by parastatals.
Council argues that failure by its debtors to clear outstanding payments is affecting its ability to provide efficient services and clear its debts with various creditors.
The local authority owes various creditors $256 794 852 for the month of January, up from $223 440 579 in December.
The policy does not spare even BCC staff and councillors as it insists on forced deductions from their salaries if they have outstanding bills.
“Any person receiving a salary or allowances from the city may not be in arrears to the city for rates and consumer service charges for a period longer than three months (unless suitable arrangements have been made for the payment of arrears) and council may deduct any outstanding amounts from the person’s salary after this period,” the 25-paged document read.
“The city shall liaise with the relevant persons referred to in 59 above and their departmental representatives and issue the necessary salary deduction instruction where appropriate after compliance with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.”
Council has been operating without a documented credit control and debt collection policy. It has been relying on resolutions, the Urban Councils Act, the water and sewage by-laws and other pieces of legislation.
“The FD (finance director) shall be the implementing authority: (a) implement and enforce the city’s credit control and debt collection policy and any by-laws enacted in terms of the Urban Councils Act;
“(b) In accordance with the credit control and debt collection policy and any such by-laws establish effective administrative mechanisms, processes and procedures to collect money that is due and payable to the city,” it adds.