BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has hiked business development regulation fees from US$381 to US$1 000 to discourage illegal operations in the central business district, a council report has revealed.
The fees can be paid in its local currency equivalency.
According to the council’s town, lands and planning committee report, an increase in the number of illegal businesses seeking regularisation necessitated the increase in licensing fees to discourage illegal operations before legalisation.
“The revised regularisation fee had been tabled before the tariff committee (meeting of December 3 2020).
“The revised regularisation fee was now US$1000 or equivalent in ZWL$,” the committee’s report read.
Development of business operations in the city are regulated by the Regional Town Country Planning Act and the statutory framework which includes, Bulawayo master plan, outline plan, schemes and the local plans.
“These (council) statutory plans zone different parts of the city for various uses depending on their compatibility and obtrusiveness in nature.
“As a result, the establishment of certain uses was freely permitted on certain zones whilst on other zones they were only permitted through special consent of council,” the report read.
“This meant that they should apply for special consent of council and be issued with a development permit prior to their establishment.
“Due to the increase in number of applications that were now being subjected to regularisation fee, there had been a need to review the respective fee to US$800 or equivalent in Zimbabwe dollar to try and discourage the establishment of businesses and developments without council authority within the city.”
This fee hike follows concerns by councillors that the city was losing potential revenue from a number of businesses not paying license fees and other taxes such as lettable unit shops occupying a number of buildings.
City fathers have since crafted a policy on lettable unit shops for easy regulation and licensing while also boosting the growth of the small-to-medium-enterprises sector and enhancing revenue collection as well as controlling illegal vendors.