Cash-strapped BCC begs residents to pay rates in US Dollars

Source: Cash-strapped BCC begs residents to pay rates in US Dollars – #Asakhe – CITE

By Ndumiso Tshuma

Bulawayo Mayor David Coltart has urged residents to dig deep and pay their rates in US dollars to enable the local authority to pay for goods and services required for adequate service delivery.

The council is struggling to meet its financial needs for service delivery because suppliers demand payment in foreign currency, while residents pay their rates in local currency.

In a meeting held yesterday with stakeholders to unpack the local authority’s service delivery blueprint, Coltart stated, “We understand that people are struggling, and so is the council. However, to address the water situation, roads, and sewage, we need US dollars. So, it is a plea to everyone to dig deep and to pay as much as they can in US dollars.”

The mayor further stated that the city needs foreign currency to run efficiently.

“One of our major problems is that we need USD to be able to run this city efficiently. Many of the things the city has to buy must be in foreign exchange. For example, our fuel, spare parts for our vehicles, chemicals for water, and a whole range of other things have to be paid for in USD,” said Coltart.

On payment of rates in local currency, the mayor stated that the council is legally obligated to use the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s exchange rate.

“The problem we face is that we are obliged by law to use the RBZ rate when people want to pay in RTGS. This means that the official rate is different from the black market rate, as the black market rate is considered to be higher than the RBZ rate. This is a reality, and we are bound by that. If you want us to address these challenges as a council, we all have to work together to adequately fund the city with USD,” remarked Coltart.

The mayor also indicated that the local authority is also striving to pay its employees’ salaries in foreign currency.

“If we pay staff in RTGS with the rapid depreciation of our currency, it means that our staff at the end of the month come out with literally nothing, and that leads to low staff morale and low service delivery. As a policy, the city council has to do what most businesses do, which is to try to pay as much as we can to our staff in USD. This is a reality, not a political statement,” said Coltart.