Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Bulawayo City Council has formulated a policy designed to raise foreign currency through giving a 50 percent discount to individuals who pay bills in United States dollars after service providers allegedly started demanding forex.
The local authority yesterday said the scheme mainly targets diasporans who pay their bills directly to the municipality from their foreign bases. Under the policy, BCC would also demand partial payment for land in foreign currency.
Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said in an interview that the scheme was the only way council could keep providing efficient service to residents. He said the policy now awaits Government approval.
The Mayor said even locals who have access to foreign currency would benefit from the policy.
“The policy is subject to confirmation by the Minister (Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde July Moyo). It’s a policy where we are saying that if you pay your bills in US dollars you get a 50 percent discount of what you owe. Let’s say you owe council $100, if you pay $50 in US dollars the other $50 is scrapped,” said Clr Mguni.
“It’s something that we’re working on and it has sailed through the Special Council Meeting. But we are mainly targeting the diaspora community with properties in the city. They can directly pay their bills from where they are. Some of these people, we believe, send their money to people who are resident in the country. However, sometimes these people do not pay their bills.”
He said the policy would see those intending to buy land paying a particular percentage in foreign currency. Clr Mguni said council is not in violation of Government policy as it accepts both bond notes and electronic transfers.
But due to demand for foreign currency from its service providers, he said, council should also be dynamic so that it continues to offer efficient services.
“Our service providers are now charging us in forex so to avoid having a situation where our stocks deplete to dangerous levels, we have come up with this policy. We are aware of the policy that we should not charge for our services in US dollars.
“That’s why we need the Minister to talk to his Finance (Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube) counterpart for it to be accepted,” said Clr Mguni.
The Mayor said the local authority has not received foreign currency allocation from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yet it buys some of its chemicals from external suppliers.
He encouraged residents to pay their bills saying revenue collections have drastically declined in the past few months.—@nqotshili