Local Authority

Ratepayers owe Gweru City US$15m

-as debts jump 40% since Jan


City of Gweru is now owed US$14,739,112 up from US$10,535,307 in January this year an increase of approximately 40%.

On the other hand councils owes its creditors US$3,430,894 up by 20.4%,from US$2,849,714.

 The billing efficiency for the first quarter of 2024 stood at 87.6% of the total budgeted billing of US$10,749,999 against actual billing of US$9,417,984.

In the first quarter of the year, council collected US$6,752,695 against a target of US$8,062,499, showing a collection efficiency of 71.7% using the interbank rate.

The figures shows that council fell below the targeted collection by 19.4%.

These figures were released yesterday by the Finance Deputy Director, Owen Masimba, during the 2024 first-quarter budget performance review meeting with the Gweru stakeholders.

Masimba said the city has put in place stringent measures to recover all debts and weed out irrecoverable debts.

He said the introduction of the ZiG also contributed to the low revenue collection.

“Since the announcement and the subsequent migration by banks and companies, revenue inflows have been affected. It was a common cause that companies and individuals could not transact, and by the same token, City of Gweru was not spared, and inflows also stopped,” explained Masimba.

He added that in the month of April 2024, collection came below the 50% mark of previous average collections.

In addition, the finance deputy director said the spiraling effect will need at least 3 months to correct as they have fixed overheads that require attention.

Masimba added that the Midlands capital is battling to settle issues with creditors as fixed overheads like electricity, fuel, and water chemicals “continued to be incurred daily, whereas revenue inflows went on a sabbatical during the country-wide migration period.”

The local authority will be losing a potential revenue of ZiG$887,781.47 (USD$65,470.61) per month and ZiG$10,653,377.64 per annum due to the cessation of billing supplementary charges for properties in Woodlands and other peri-urban areas in Vungu.

Masimba emphasized that council will charge USD$1.10 per kiloliter to properties under Vungu as they are no longer being subsidized, compared to those in the city boundaries who will be charged USD$0.40.

However, the local authority will remain in financial distress as the residents from Vungu continue to  “access social services like clinics, recreational facilities and other services which are paid from rates and supplementary charges,”.

Meanwhile, residents have called on the local authority to improve service delivery, particularly on water provision.

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