Bulawayo introduces forex bill payments for foreign entities, residents

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By Staff Reporter

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has issued a directive for international organisations enjoying services in the city to settle their bills in foreign currency.

The decision is part of a set of resolutions put forward by the local authority to cushion itself from rising inflation caused by the fall of the local RTGS based currency.

The city has moved to also offer discounts on residents and organisations that will now pay their bills in hard currency.

In a statement, city’s Town Clerk Christopher Dube said that international organisations with offices in the city will be expected to settle their bills in hard currency.

“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 city has also extended 50% discounts on all rate payers who come forward to settle their bills in forex.

“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,” Dube said.

Zimbabwe faces an acute shortage of foreign currency that has been manifested in fuel shortages with manufacturing firms also scaling down on production due to hard currency challenges.

Government maintains local transactions were being done in the much resented bond notes or RTGS while claiming both were at par with the US dollar, which trades at US$1:Z$3 on the black market where it is readily obtainable.

This has however not stopped local firms from offering incentives on clients who make their payments in foreign currency in clear signs the country was informally dollarising.

Likewise, BCC has moved to take up the idea and has set up a foreign currency payment system for individuals and companies to settle their bills.

Dube said the local authority has “opened an appropriate Foreign Currency Account [Domestic FCA] to cater for forex payments as part of policy options and strategies to address the socio- economic factors”.

The city boss said “Bulawayo’s financial position has been depleted and Council is barely managing to remain afloat and provide basic and decent services”.

“The situation is dire and untenable and calls on the City of Bulawayo to implement austerity measures to make sure there continued service delivery,” he said.