Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has given the city’s businesses a lifeline by slashing bills by 50 percent in a move aimed at stemming company closures.
Most businesses have been struggling to pay bills due to cash flow problems threatening their viability.
According to the latest council minutes, so far four Bulawayo companies have benefited from the exercise after engaging council. Another one, TV Sales and Home Warehousing also approached council, but it was not immediately clear if BCC had slashed its bill.
The city’s financial services director Mr Kimpton Ndimande reported that the slashing of the bills is in line with resolutions made at a special meeting held on November 23 last year.
“The resolution, particularly resolution 5, mentioned that organisations, companies and individuals be permitted to submit their applications for the 50 percent discount incentives and turnaround strategies for consideration by council.
“The consideration is based on terms of criteria discussed in the report. So far, four businesses submitted their applications and council approved them,” read the council minutes.
Alliance Media, Owen Fromburg (Pvt) Ltd, Toolmaking and Engineering as well as Supreme Meat Market are the businesses that have benefited from the scheme.
“Alliance Media will now pay $93 885 after their bill was slashed from $187 770.33. The company applied for a 50 percent discount on payment of $93 885. It proposes to pay rentals in advance for two years to end of December 2019.
“Owen Fromburg (Pvt) Ltd also applied for a 50 percent discount and the company’s bill was slashed from $45 702 to $22 851. The company promised to religiously pay all monthly accruals as they become due,” read the council minutes.
The minutes also indicate that the bill for Toolmaking and Engineering was slashed from $45 604 to $22 502 after the company applied for a discount.
“In its turnaround strategy, Toolmaking and Engineering indicated that they have sourced funding to make their building attractive, found tenants to lease premises. TV Sales and Home Warehousing is among them. The company has promised to pay its monthly dues,” read the council minutes.
The chairperson of the council’s finance committee Councillor Nephat Sibanda yesterday said there was no specific criteria used to slash the bills.
He said the committee considered reasons of non-payment by the businesses.
“Companies are required to bring their applications and explain why they’re failing to pay their bills.
“As council we look at the merits of the case and if we’re satisfied with the response we slash the bill as requested.
“This policy was introduced in 2014 and we had an overwhelming response.
“What we’re doing now is simply renewing the policy and reminding our ratepayers to come forward and present their challenges so that we help each other,” said Clr Sibanda.
He said for domestic bills there’s a provision to make payment arrangements with the council and ratepayers are encouraged to approach the city council.