Chinhoyi residents reject proposed 2021 budget

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

RESIDENTS have shot down the 2021 budget proposed by Chinhoyi Municipality, describing it as exorbitant and unsustainable.

In some instances, the budget estimates will see tariffs hiked by more than 1 500%.

Penalties for various breaches as well as other ancillary municipal services were proposed to rise steeply.

The local authority last week held budget consultative meetings with stakeholders, who included businesspeople and vendors.

Chinhoyi Residents Association chairman, Clifford Hlupeko said his organisation outrightly rejects the tabled budget estimates.

“The proposals of the 2021 council budget are absurd and do not have a human face. The entire budget figures stalk inflation at a time the economy is showing signs of improvement, while our local currency has stabilised against the United States dollar.

“It does not warrant thump-sucking figures just for the sake of overburdening residents who are already finding it difficult to pay their bills,” said Hlupeko.

He urged the council led by town clerk Maxwell Kaitano to revert to 2020 supplementary budget tariffs which took effect on 1 October 2020.

“We are of the view that we can’t continue milking residents, yet council is failing to provide basic social services to residents such as potable water, roads, refuse collection, streetlights and other municipal services.

“When council hiked the supplementary budget figures just last month, they factored in hyperinflation that prevailed in the first quarter of the year, and the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on the budget performance.”

Chinhoyi Residents’ Trust coordinator, Peter Liwanda weighed-in, “Council has to go back to the drawing board and revise the figures so that they reflect the real situation on the ground.

“Residents are struggling to settle their dues and you expect them to be able to pay bills following the increases. That we reject and we urge residents to shoot down this budget.”

Chinhoyi Municipality has proposed to start charging expecting mothers maternity booking fees pegging them at $1 629. It used to be free of charge to register for maternity.

The cost of dying will also go up with a grave costing $2 444, up from $157.

The penalty for discharging raw effluent into the environment will attract $122 175, up from $75 000 while tampering or vandalising a water metre or sewer line will cost up to $81 450.

Parking fees would also be hiked exponentially with council threatening to enforce traffic-by laws in order to boost dwindling revenue streams.