Govt, Residents, Business Owe Gweru $295m

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By Staff Reporter

THE Midlands capital city, Gweru has disclosed it is failing to fulfill its service delivery obligations because its coffers are running dry as debtors, who include residents, government ministries and businesses collectively owe it $295 million.

The debt is owed to the municipality as at December 31, 2020.

It rose by $45 million from September the same when the debt stood at $250 million then.

In his state of the city address last week, Gweru mayor Josiah Makombe described 2020 as a tough year for the city as revenue collection dwindled significantly.

He attributed the decline to the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

“Whereas our debtors’ book figure was $80 568 409 as at 31st December 2019, the debtors (bill) ballooned during the year to close the financial year 2020 at $295 968 176,” Makombe said.

“The 2020 financial year was a difficult year due to the emergence of the Covid-19, which negatively affected the business community as well as the informal traders.”

He added:” This had a negative impact on the city’s finances and consequently on service delivery as we witnessed a downward trend in respect of inflows getting into our coffers.”

Makombe said the city’s billing for last month went up to $143 million with council expecting a proportional increase in next month’s collections.

However, he explained the council had intensified its debt collection efforts in a bid to improve service delivery.

The city boss added the local authority had started sending final demand letters to ratepayers and urged them to honour their obligations.

“I would like to apologise to those residents who got final demands when they were in actual fact up to date (with their payments). Kindly ignore those final demand letters and keep up the good spirit of paying bills as and when they become due. My council is still working on a programme to award you with discounts for your good payment record.”

He said the government had approved the 2021 in early January and the city council would be effecting the new tariffs in the January billing statements.