The City of Harare says it will start repaying its $144 million debt to China-Exim Bank this year with an amount of $72 million having already been committed.
The $144 million loan facility was obtained from China Exim Bank for the rehabilitation of waterworks. The loan was advanced at an interest rate of 3 percent per annum and over nine year tenure.
“A total of $144 million was owed to the Exim Bank of China of which $72 million had been committed and repayment will commence on a date yet to be agreed upon,” said City of Harare Director for Finance and Development Tendai Kwenda.
According to council’s financial report for the period January to February 2017, Harare City’s creditors amount to $438,2 million while a total of $18,7 million was owed to Zimbabwe’s largest building society, CABS for the period under review.
Aggregate income and expenditure for the period under review indicated a surplus of $18,8 million. Actual collections amounted to $24,3 million for the period.
At a City Council meeting held recently, the committee on finance and development acknowledged an improvement in revenue collection in the first two months which was attributed to the engagement of debt collectors as well as other internal revenue collection strategies the Council was utilising.
The committee also noted with concern, the non-payment of dividends by various council owned businesses and underscored the need to address the matter.
Mr Kwenda said the committee underscored the need to capacitate the Building Inspectorate Division to ensure effective supervision and approval of building projects in various wards.
The city council has been battling to pay back millions it owes to local and international lenders. In its financial report for 2015, council blamed the prevailing economic challenges gripping the country, saying they have seen residents struggle to pay for services.
In a bid to intensify revenue collection, the city council came up with revenue collection department whose major responsibility is to collect and bank council’s money for rates, rents, water and other charges for services offered by the council.
Its duty is to provide centralised, effective and efficient revenue collection system and ensuring timeous and correct billing, efficient and effective revenue collection, proper accounting and bench marking against best practices.
Reports say the city council is owed half a billion dollars in unpaid bills by residents, Government and business, a situation which has seen the local authority failing to provide basic services and pay salaries.
City council management has, however, put in place strategies to accelerate revenue collection in order to close on the salary gap. The emphasis is being put on revenue collection and heads of departments are putting together various strategies to ensure success in this regard.
Harare City Council in 2015 served about 20 000 defaulters with summons to attach properties, as it moved to recover money owed in unpaid bills by residents.