Mutare Council Begs Govt Nod To Bill Ratepayers In Foreign Currency

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By Staff Reporter

THE Mutare City Council has made a passionate plea to central government to allow the cash-strapped local authority bill ratepayers in US dollars, saying this will help the authority defeat current inflation challenges which have negatively impacted on service delivery.

Council finance director Blessing Chafesuka made the plea while addressing residents during a supplementary 2020 budget and the 2021 budget consultation meeting last week.

He said inflation had caused havoc and battered the country’s economy, thereby impacting negatively on the Mutare City Council’s tendering process for equipment and services.

“We are just waiting for the central government to give us the final directive to start billing using United States dollars,” Chafesuka said.

“This will help us to meet our current challenges when paying suppliers, who charge in foreign currency or inflated Zimbabwe dollar rates in the wake of limited readily available foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” the finance director said.

“Councils are at a disadvantage in this hyperinflation operating environment. If we cannot collect US dollars we will continue to struggle as a local authority.

“Dual pricing and displaying, quoting, and offering of prices for goods and services is now the order of the day though and we hope to also benefit from this.”

He added: “What are we budgeting here today when we reach January next year, our prices in local currency will no longer be the same? This is what we want to make you understand in this budget consultation.” 

Chafesuka also blamed Minister of Local Government July Moyo for the delay in approving the 2020 budget. Instead of approving the Mutare council’s budget in January, the minister only gave the consent in March.

“So for the past six months, we have been really struggling to stay afloat, as we all know how prices have changed severely this year alone,” he said.

Chafesuka gave an example of a $500 000 tender for a printer made last year but the supplier was now demanding $2, 5 million for the same product.

“When the rate changes the supplier often pegs excessive rates in Zimbabwe dollars. Thus the reason why we are crying for United States dollar billing to counter inflation. Our foreign currency billing will be reasonable not inflated.”