‘BCC’s static budget to hurt Zimdollar earners’

Bulawayo City Council.

BULAWAYO’S US$158 million budget for 2023 announced on Monday is likely to hurt local currency earners as their bills would be paid at the prevailing foreign currency exchange rate of that particular day.

BCC chairperson of the finance and development committee Tawanda Ruzive on Monday unveiled the US$157,99 million budget, and proposed to set aside US$106 million for key infrastructural development projects in the city.

Some of the projects include construction of classroom blocks, clinics, servicing of stands and construction of roads amongst others.

Ruzive said the 2023 Bulawayo budget will maintain the present US$ tariffs, while those paying in local currency will do so at prevailing exchange rates.

Residents and consumer rights groups said this would affect a majority of low-income earners whose earnings are in local currency.

National Consumer Rights Association (Nacora) coordinator Effie Ncube said: "This is a non-realistic budget which is unacceptable. The problem is in the country's economy as a whole and cannot be addressed by BCC, but at national level. However, council must find means to remove the burden on the ratepayers through investing in various projects.”

Ncube said unnecessary expenditure must be stopped.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association chairman Ambrose Sibindi said: “Workers will not be able to pay since they earn in local currency and their salaries are not increased monthly. If workers have no disposable income, what more those in the informal sector?  They will not be able to pay bills.”

The current budget will raise rates to US$28 from US$18.

Ruzive said there were plans to construct two more clinics in Cowdray Park and Emganwini with US$200 000 set aside for the projects.

Two more cemeteries will be opened in Marvel and Pumula South.

"Council proposes to set aside US$252 000 to fund environmental issues. Council also plans to buy computers, rehabilitate buildings, drill boreholes and develop Hume Park during the year.  A provision of US$175 000 has been made for an Industrial clinic to cater for council staff. Most clinics have solar panels installed. In the coming year, council plans to secure these panels at 12 council clinics by surrounding them with palisade fencing at a combined budget of US$120 000."

BCC also plans to build two halls in Pumula East and Old Lobengula at a cost of US$700 000, while renovations at Sidojiwe flats will cost US$200 000 and US$1 million will be used to refurbish Coles, Howard, Lyndhurst, Parkhurst and Tregene courts.

"In 2023, council will continue servicing land using the pre-sale model. Council has set aside about US$12 million to service new stands in Emganwini, Highmount, Magwegwe Extension, Umvumila Industrial and Housing Park, Killarney East and Bellevue, Emhlangeni and Pumula East," Ruzive said.

The capital budget for ICT projects will be US$5 290 263, and this will include hardware for prepaid metering and other peripheral computer related equipment.

Road infrastructure will get US$15 million, while some of the funds will go towards refurbishment of city dams.

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