A NUMBER of Bulawayo companies have approached city authorities seeking rates exemptions, a clear indication that all was not well in the country’s second largest city’s economy, which has seen more than 100 companies closing shop since 2009.
Source: Byo firms seek debt cancellations – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 6, 2016
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in January 2014 announced a cocktail of incentives, among them a once-off 50% discount on amounts owed, if the arrears were settled before June 30, in a bid to ease the burden on Bulawayo’s struggling industries.
It also relaxed its intensive water rationing schedule and waived penalties and interest rates on accounts owing.
In the same year, it also extended the grace period for companies to settle their outstanding levies by three months to September, after the previous offer provided $1,2 million relief to local firms.
The promotion ran until December 31, 2015.
But a latest report by the council’s finance and development committee showed that many companies were still struggling to pay and had approached the council to have their debts cancelled, so they could invest in capital projects.
These companies include Tagarira Brothers, currently under judicial management and owing the council $85 899, Ionela Warehouse Management Services which owes the council $124 605, Harrogate Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd owing $15 093, Blue Lagoon and Anzac Investments (Pvt) Ltd both run by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s
“We are aware that the deadline has expired but we feel the city fathers can consider our request to pay 50% in full and final settlement of your claim,” Tagarira Brothers wrote to council.
BCC financial director Kimpton Ndimande recommended that the 50% rebate be extended to Tagarira Brothers, Ability Investments and Harrogate Enterprises but turned down Blue Lagoon and Anzac Investment requests citing poor account management.
“The Blue Lagoon account was poorly managed by the applicant. Payments had not been consistent over the years resulting in the ballooning of the debt,” BCC director of engineering services, Simela Dube, recommended.
He urged Blue Lagoon to sell all the undeveloped land to avoid a heavy and unsustainable rates burden.
A number of Bulawayo companies have been placed under liquidation since 2009, with several of them voluntarily applying for liquidation to evade creditors.