Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
BULAWAYO City Council has started implementing a 50 percent debt cancellation policy but only for those paying their bills in foreign currency, while all international organisations operating in the city are now required to pay for services in forex.
The local authority has also initiated the sale of residential stands in foreign currency targeting the diaspora market under the ‘Khumbula Ekhaya Rates’ scheme.
In a statement yesterday, Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the debt cancellation strategy would run for six months starting from December 17 this month.
He said the scheme covers those paying in forex only at the official 1:1 bond to US dollar.
Mr Dube said the debt cancellation scheme is part of the local authority’s incentive to promote payments of rates while adopting austerity measures to keep the municipality afloat.
“An offer of 50 percent discount incentive is availed to foreign currency payments from ratepayers in the Diaspora to settle their rates through their Nostro accounts. This is, however, not limited to this category of Diaspora ratepayers alone, but also applies to local ratepayers who have access to hard currency,” said Mr Dube.
He said those who would have cleared their debts will also attain a 50 percent discount from the local authority in the mentioned period.
Mr Dube said BCC has opened an offshore account which diasporans can utilise to pay for their accounts while locals can also pay directly to the municipality’s foreign currency account.
“Pay directly in cash through the express window for foreign currency at the Revenue Hall which has been made available for such payments. All payments made in foreign currency will get discounts as follows: Full settlement attracts a 50 percent discount on total amount owing. Part payments will get discounts on a pro rata basis. This facility will run for an initial period of six months from 17 December 2018,” said Mr Dube.
“A special foreign currency desk/counter has been opened at the Revenue Hall [Licensing Section] to serve everyone paying in foreign currency.
“Exchange rates are updated on a daily basis and displayed at the banking halls for ease of conversion since all forms of foreign currency are accepted. Discounts are processed within three days of payment.”
He said the local authority has not been spared the harsh economic environment affecting the country.
Mr Dube said council has adopted other measures which include selling residential stands in foreign currency to boost its reserves as some of its service providers were demanding forex.
International organisations, he said, would pay their rates in foreign currency.
“A special area (77 low density residential stands in Selbourne Park) has been identified to pilot a programme where low density residential stands will be pre-sold to beneficiaries in foreign currency in order to raise servicing costs. This scheme is open to both people in the Diaspora and locals with access to foreign currency funds,” Mr Dube.
“All international organisations that are operating within the city who pay for council services through their landlords or directly to city council, are now expected to make payments in foreign currency with immediate effect. They are also encouraged to utilise the express window at Revenue Hall when making payments.”
He said the new changes are meant to strengthen the multi-currency system for financial and price stability.
Mr Dube said the local authority will continue to monitor the economy while taking necessary steps to provide a flawless service.