By Robin Muchetu
Major outstanding accounts
- Financial institutions US$11 719 215,08
BULAWAYO City Council owes several service providers millions of United States dollars in unpaid bills from last year with the biggest debt of close to US$18 million being owed to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.
- Loan balance from IDBZ US$2 198 453,72
In December 2011 alone, council’s expenditure was US$60 345 427 while it generated only US$46 193 933, citing various reasons for their failure to collect adequate revenue.
In an interview, the mayor, Clr Thaba Moyo, said the loss of the management of vehicle licences to the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) was one of many factors which affected revenue.
“We have lost the management of vehicle licences to ZINARA which was bringing in a lot of revenue but when Government decides to do something we cannot stop them,’’ said Clr Moyo.
He said council failed to secure the deal which was awarded to Zimpost.
Clr Moyo said they were lobbying ZINARA to find a way in which it could plough back into council.
According to the latest council minutes, the city owes the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority US$17 715 436,46 in unpaid bills. Other institutions that the council owes include its medical aid facility, TelOne, Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund, National Social Security Authority, Mzingwane Catchment and funeral policy service providers.
The total amount owed is over US$55 million against about US$62 million that ratepayers owe.
Water meters in some areas of the city are not working and some residents and companies are using water for free at the expense of the city council.
“Most water meters in residential and commercial areas are not working, consumption is based on estimates,’’ read the council minutes in part.
Domestic debtors owe US$35 055 264,24 while industrial and commercial debtors owe US$23 484 012,02. Government owes US$4 455 609,64.
Some shops and industries in Bulawayo have closed down and relocated to Harare and other areas and this has affected budgeted income on licences and other service charges.
Industries that closed down are hoping to cash in on the US$40 million fund that is meant for distressed companies, hopefully the revival of these industries will improve the revenue base of council. The fund is supposed to benefit the most affected industries to get them back on their feet.
Some companies have, however, lost faith in the fund as they have not received anything from it yet.
Media reports say the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund has since moved into the second phase which is targeting companies in the Midlands Province yet the targeted companies in Bulawayo have not had their share of the fund.