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HARARE residents have questioned the logic behind council’s rates and tariffs hike when most ratepayers are failing to settle current bills even after the 50% discount promotions that are currently on offer.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Harare Residents Trust co-ordinator, Precious Shumba and his counterpart from the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), Mfundo Mlilo said it was baffling that the city presented a $472 million 2019 budget when it has never collected anything above $200 million in recent years.
“The budget is detached from the reality of the ratepayers. Instead of factoring the lessons learnt from the implementation of the city budgets from 2015, 2016, 2017 and the current 2018, they seem to repeat the same mistakes of simply throwing figures in their budget without applying any rationality,” Shumba said.
In the 2018 budget, council collected $145 million between January and September, with salaries gobbling $83 million, while service delivery got $62 million.
Council proposed a 19% increase in water tarrifs, as the city seeks to deal with high cost of water treatment chemicals and spare parts.
Shumba said the budget was not realistic considering the deepening economic woes.
“The City of Harare proposes to increase the fees for clamping and towing vehicles, while neglecting to address the issue of shortage of parking space in the central business district. Simply imposing punitive fines on errant drivers is not a sustainable solution,” he said.
“The City of Harare indicates that they will secure loans, thus evidence of low revenue generation capacity, yet they continue to recruit more staff in council. The recruitment of personnel in the council should be taken away from the councillors so that council workers are recruited in the same standard and manner as government employees, maybe through the Local Government Board.”
Mlilo said the proposed budget was unrealistic given that in the past years council has never collected anything above $200 million.
“This is a misplaced budget, it is unrealistic. They have never collected more than $200 million and yet they budget $400 million, how will they fund that? They must also look into the money set aside for water issues, it is nothing compared to the crisis we have as a country. So in short, this is an unrealistic, unachievable budget,” Mlilo said.
In October Harare mayor Herbert Gomba said the city required about $1 billion for overhaul of water and sewage infrastructure and construction of new water sources.