Gweru unveils $434 billion budget

Source: The Chronicle – Breaking news

Gweru unveils $434 billion budget 
Gweru City Council

Patrick Chitumba,

GWERU City Council has unveiled an ambitious $434 billion annual business plan for the year 2024, which is aimed at improving service delivery in the city.

The local authority’s business plan is directly linked to its 2021-2025 strategic plan.

According to the annual business plan budget statement released on Wednesday by the acting finance director Mr Michael Verenga, the local authority has proposed a capital budget of $60,4 billion, which will be channelled towards infrastructure projects.

Additionally, the revenue budget has been set at $374,4 billion to ensure a comprehensive financial framework to support the city’s operations.

“For the year 2024, our business plan has a budget of $434 billion which is aimed at driving the council’s goals and enhancing service delivery in the city. With substantial financial resources and strategic allocation of funds, the local authority aims to address critical needs, improve infrastructure, enhance service delivery, and ultimately uplift the well-being of the community,” said Mr Verenga.

The budget statement highlights several key funding sources and initiatives such as external borrowing of about US$4,2 million to contribute to the financial resources available for investment.

Other notable revenue streams for the year 2024 include Devolution Funds ($17,9 billion), Zinara grant ($6,7 billion), Gweru City Parking revenue ($5,3 billion), Bentach lease revenue ($1,2 billion), and Go Beer farming revenue ($3 billion), with projected profitability expected to reach $1,35 billion.

The local authority also announced that there will be no salary adjustments for its workforce as the council focuses on prioritising essential services and addressing critical needs within the city.

“One of the key areas of concern for the council is the improvement of water supply to residents. Currently, 30 percent of the residents have no access to reliable water supply, while other residential areas receive water for only 10 hours per day or even as infrequently as once per week,” said Mr Verenga.

“Recognising the urgency of the situation, the council is working tirelessly to overcome these challenges and provide adequate water services to all residents.”

The water issues are primarily attributed to dilapidated water infrastructure, frequent power outages, and poor workmanship.

To address these issues, Gweru City Council has allocated a significant portion of the budget, amounting to $165 billion, towards water, sanitation, and hygiene initiatives.

“This allocation represents over 40 percent of the total budget, underscoring the council’s commitment to resolving the water challenges in the city.

“The council plans to rehabilitate and upgrade projects at key water treatment plants such as Whitewaters Treatment Plant, Gwenhoro Waterworks, and Amapongobwe Waterworks,” said Mr Verenga.

“Through these endeavours, the council aims to enhance the water reticulation system and ensure a more reliable and accessible water supply for all residents.”

Mr Verenga said the council will continue to engage stakeholders, seek feedback, and refine its plans to ensure that the allocated funds are used efficiently and effectively.

Through collective effort and strategic investment, he said, the council aims to address the water supply challenges                  and achieve its goals of sustainable service delivery and community well-being.

Besides the water challenges, the budget was also drafted to provide sanitation services, housing, social services and amenities, health services, roads and public lighting infrastructure, promote local economic development, mobilise resources for service delivery, and promote good corporate governance.

“On social service delivery, council intends to construct more classroom blocks on existing schools, construct static satellite clinics, rehabilitation and upgrading of sporting facilities. On public safety and security services, council has plans to purchase an ambulance, firefighting equipment and streets light rehabilitation, among other projects,” said Mr Verenga.