Residents jostle to benefit from 50pc discount

Source: Residents jostle to benefit from 50pc discount | The Herald 02 FEB, 2019

Residents jostle to benefit from 50pc discount
Mr Chideme

Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare residents were on Thursday jostling to make last minute payments in order to benefit from the 50 percent discount initiative after council said it would not extend the promotion this time around and would opt for other methods of debt collection.

Harare offered a 50 percent discount to ratepayers who settle their debts in full in a bid to entice them to pay outstanding bills.

Harare City Council corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme yesterday said council was happy that it had offered relief to residents.

“We are now being affected by prices. The impact of the 50 percent may not be as effective as before. People have tripled or doubled prices.

“Where we used to get fuel for $150 000, we are now forking out more than $450 000. It is now affecting the service delivery aspect because the money has been eroded,” he said.

“Most of our contractors and suppliers are also now reviewing their prices upwards and that is affecting our capacity to benefit from the 50 percent discount. What makes us happy is we have given relief to the residents who participated in the 50 percent discount initiative.”

He said council was happy that residents had seen that the offer was genuine as their bills had been reduced.

Mr Chideme said council was not going to extend the promotion which started in August last year, saying council would employ other methods of debt collection.

“We are still to ascertain the amount collected because people were jostling to pay up to 12 midnight, (especially)those who were using electronic payment systems.”

Government, businesses and residents owe the local authority over $784 million.

Council pinned all hope on the incentives to rescue it from a financial crisis which has seen the local authority failing to pay salaries and provide basic services such as refuse collection.

When the city introduced a similar facility in 2016, it raked in $85 million. By October last year, residents had reduced their debts from $370 million to $336 million. Council had been collecting between $15 million to $20 million during the discount period.

Prior to that it had been collecting between $10 million and $12 million against potential monthly collections of $22 million.

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