By Lulu Brenda Harris
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has approved a $212 million 2019 budget that would see tariff hikes in a bid to improve service delivery.
Council last increased tariffs by four percent in year 2015 and for the past three years, city fathers had not effected any increases.
The council voted 16 -14 to pass the budget.
At a total $212 462 743, the budget consists of a revenue budget of $116 599 243 and capital budget of $95 863 500.
Focus will be on water and sanitation, cutting expenditure and providing city services.
Presenting the 2019 budget at a special council meeting Tuesday, Chairman of the Finance committee, Councilor Silas Chigora, said the budget was crafted at a time when Bulawayo and the country were faced with numerous socio economic challenges.
“For the proposed budget to deliver services to the residents, it has to be financed through tariff increases,” said Cllr Chigora.
“Council is aware of the plight of residents thus council has to balance level of service delivery and tariff affordability”.
All other grave charges to increase pro rata.
“The increase in grave charges would assist council in maintenance of cemeteries,” said Cllr Chigora.
“Council carries the responsibility of maintaining cemeteries in perpetuity and this increase will go a long way in making sure there is proper maintenance.
“Going forward cremation will be encouraged and fees for the same revised downwards”.
Central to the expectations of the residents, BCC is aiming to have a budget that would adequately fund the following key priority areas: water, health, sewerage, housing, roads, education, public lighting, social services and fire ambulance.
The capital budget financing for the fiscal year 2019 is pegged at $95 863 500 of which the bulk of the finance will come from the African Development Bank Grant stands presale scheme and new borrowing powers.
The breakdown is as: AFDB grant $24 500 000, Presale scheme $29 763 500, New borrowing powers $26 000 000, Existing borrowing powers $5 600 000, Pipeline levy $2 000 000, Revenue contribution $4 800 000 and Ward retention $3 200 000
This will see sewer reticulation works undertaken in Cowdray Park and Nkulumane.
“The grant will go a long way on improving our water and sanitation infrastructure. The successful implementation of policy measures proposed in this budget will no doubt requires full participation of our partners, rate payers and all our stakeholders,” said Cllr Chigora.
“Our city has good records of astute stewardship in the utilisation of limited resources , we need to uphold that good name. It is important therefore that as we interrogate this Budget we don’t lose focus where we want to go as a city.
“The budget activities and our priorities list should motivate all of us to walk this painful journey to glory”.