GWERU – Local authorities were recently told that they could not demand payments in USDs after municipalities had proposed a double billing system which allows ratepayers to pay either in foreign currency or local currency equivalent to the prevailing bank rates.
The proposal had been tabled following the need for councils to continue providing services to ratepayers whose roll materials are mostly acquired in USDs.
Chief Director Urban Local Authorities Erica Jones however told the town clerk’s forum organized by the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) that municipalities cannot demand forex.
“Local authorities don’t charge US$ but charge in Zimbabwean dollars. People are permitted to pay in US$ using the auction rate. If a cubic of water costs a US$100 a local authority can then accept money equivalent at the rate, but it cannot charge in US$,” she said.
UCAZ hoever maintained that government must be realistic if they expect local authorities to continue providing services in their respective cities and towns.
“The economy is almost dollarised hence local authorities are finding it difficult to provide service in such an environment. We would have loved to charge in USD because most of the things that councils use are now being charged in USD and these include fuel, water chemicals and other consumables. As UCAZ we urge Government to be realistic and allow local authorities to charge in USD,” said the association’s President Josiah Makombe.
A local residents association, Gweru United Progressive Residents and Development Association (GUPRADA) director, Pastor David Chikore however told CommuTalk that they are yet to engage residents who had of late cried foul over an anticipated dual billing system pertaining the latest resolution.
“It was a good move by the Ministry but we are yet to engage residents on the latest government move and get their direct opinion whether the resolution was helpful to them or not. Residents had of late lamented the coming of a dual pricing process or increase in rates saying the increments couldn’t suite their static salaries,” Pastor Chikore said.