Sharon Chimenya, Masvingo Correspondent
MASVINGO City Council’s arrears to the Local Authority Pensions Fund (LAPF) have risen to more than $17 million while its debt to Zesa now stands at $12 million, as the local authority continues to battle cash flow challenges.
According to the council’s 2021 half-year budget review report, the city is in arrears of $51 million to its various service providers with the Pension Fund topping the list with $17,7 million.
“Council accumulated arrears with its various suppliers and service providers amounting to $51 million as at 30 June 2021. Local Authorities Pension Fund (LAPF) and ZETDC top the list at $17,7 million and $12,6 million respectively. While council has always endeavoured to pay its obligations, challenges with collections have continued to be an obstacle in this regard,” read part of the report.
The local authority also owes the Masvingo City Medical Aid $5,9 million, Zimra $6,2 million and Nssa $1,4 million. Meanwhile, poor performance of revenue collection has seen the debtors book ballooning to $380 million from an opening balance of $155 million and has negatively affected service delivery.
“The debtors book continues to balloon and stood at $380 121 900,65 as at 30 June 2021 rising from opening balance of $155 281 076,06. This limits the council’s capacity to deliver its obligations as conferred by statutes.
Delayed collection of revenue negatively impacts on service delivery as council loses out on the purchasing power of the money as the economy experiences inflationary pressures. Council’s ability to invest in infrastructure and equipment is curtailed while maintenance of infrastructure also suffers.”
The local authority said it endeavoured to enhance revenue collection through engagements with major debtors such as Government institutions and discontinuation of services intensified.
“Council has also enlisted the services of two law firms to assist in the collection of delinquent debt and screening of lists for handover to these law firms is in progress.”
Council said engagement with individual debtors has also been intensified seeing the number of debtors enlisted on payment plans has risen more than 1 400. Council also indicated that it was dealing with matters where some properties have gone for more than two months without water after they were disconnected for non -payment.
It noted that there was likelihood that owners of such properties were engaged in water theft or were living in unhygienic environments.