The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
REVENUE inflows at Bulawayo City Council have increased by 2 100 percent with the local authority now collecting $3 million a day, translating to $65 million per month.
This is a significant increase after council raised a red flag in May complaining that revenue had dropped to just $3 million a month after the declaration of the national lockdown in March. The local authority was struggling to pay workers’ salaries and had since requested a cushioning grant from the Government to assist them during the ongoing lockdown. However, according to a council confidential report, the local authority has since turned the corner and paid off all its salary obligations. The council has further awarded its workers a 50 percent increase.
“The financial director (Mr Kimpton Ndimande) explained that at the moment council was collecting $3 million which translated to $65 million per month. In this case, the wage bill was sustainable. Council had indeed paid salaries late due to Covid-19 national lockdown. However, council was now up to date. All outstanding salaries had since been paid,” reads the report.
In May the Association of Local Authorities, Financial Directors and Town Treasurers was engaging Central Government through the Ministry of Finance and Development to provide financial grants to local authorities, with BCC noting that it required $170 million so as to boost its revenue.
According to the latest council minutes the local authority revealed that its revenue could be further boosted but was being hindered by the national lockdown as they could not engage debt collectors to follow up on payment by residents.
“Debtors have increased by 10,3 percent and creditors by 2,2 percent. Council is running the risk of being unable to collect the debt and consequently pay the creditors. However, this scenario may be induced by the lockdown conditions which largely affect the ability for residents to pay their bills on time and the rental moratorium. Furthermore, council is currently unable to institute other measures of enforcing debt collection.
“Council has been encouraging residents to pay their bills using electronic based platforms such as Ecocash, One wallet, Telecash and internet banking. In the meantime, management has engaged various creditors to settle debts as and when revenue becomes available,” reads the report.
Meanwhile, the local authority has since engaged its workers offering them a 50 percent increment, with the workers also demanding $3 000 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to be added to their salaries.
“The workers representatives had agreed on the 50 percent increment on basic salary but they had not agreed on the COLA. Anything below $8 200 could not sustain the lower grades. The negotiations had been adjourned for the employer to seek a fresh mandate. Among the three scenarios that had been brought forward, scenario B1 which accommodated the 50 percent as basic salary and a COLA of $3 000 was within the budget and had a positive variance of $21 419 938,” reads the report.