Chinhoyi Council Blames Covid-19 For Poor 2020 Budget Performance

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

THE prevailing Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on the Chinhoyi Municipality’s revenue collection efficiency, a development that has led to poor service delivery and slow pace in implementing capital projects.

Projects still to be completed include clinic and stadium renovations, installation of solar streetlights and the overhaul of the water reticulation system.

The council has also recorded a slump in monthly revenue collection as the dire effects of the viral disease take their toll on households’ disposable incomes.

The town clerk, Maxwell Kaitano, said the volatility of the economic climate had also seen commodity prices, particularly water treatment chemicals, rising exponentially due to hyperinflation and an unstable local currency.

Residents attending a 2020 budget review meeting Tuesday heard that the municipality had managed to collect only 55% of the projected income to finance its capital projects and recurrent expenditure.

“The total billed revenue as of 30 June 2020 was $43, 46 million but actual collections amounted to $38, 2 million, giving an efficiency rate of over 87, 89%,” said Zephaniah Chirarwe, the council director of finance.

However, Chinhoyi Residents Association (CRA) chairperson, Clifford Hlupeko, raised concerns over the municipality’s failure to provide clean potable water to residents, collect piling garbage, maintain streetlights, among other ancillary services.

Hlupeko, however, hailed the council for adopting the United States dollar as the billing currency in-order to arrest the effects of runaway inflation caused by an unstable Zimbabwean dollar.

“Adopting the US$ would ensure that council is liquid and will have the capacity to deliver services to suffering residents.

“Those with the capacity to pay foreign should pay, while those without the means to access it should be allowed to settle their bills in the local currency,” said Hlupeko, during the heated meeting.

Another resident, Gerald Furusa urged the local council to prioritise water provision and refuse collection, arguing the proliferation of undesignated dumpsites and dry water taps posed a health time-bomb amid the ravaging Covid-19 virus.

Chinhoyi is yet to table its 2021 budget projections to residents, before forwarding them to Local Government Minister July Moyo for approval.