Forex woes stall council projects
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is in a quandary on how to finance its major capital projects due to lack of foreign currency with residents not keen to settle bills in forex.
The local authority collects most of its money in local currency but has challenges with suppliers and service providers who demand payment in foreign currency.
In December last year, the council offered ratepayers a 50 percent discount to those who will pay bills in United States dollars as a way of enhancing its finances.
However, the incentive, according to the local authority has not been taken up by the residents.
Kimpton Ndimande, who controls the city`s purse strings, told delegates at the financial review meeting, Wednesday, that the local authority is not in a good financial position to implement most of its projects.
“If you notice now there is hardly any activity on the roads because we can’t get tar and other materials such as Stable 60 to do so. There is no material to put on the roads,” he said.
Ndimande said contractors are also charging in forex, making it difficult for the local authority to commission any work.
“Our suppliers require payment in foreign currency which is why you find that most of our activities are now on hold.”
One of the delegates at the meeting suggested suppliers who charge council in foreign currency to also pay rates likewise.
“Council needs to refocus and position itself to run in a business unusual mode. Suppliers charging in forex should also be billed likewise. What you give me is what l give you,” he said.
Other stakeholders also advised the Council to sell stands in foreign currency.
“May Council officials not “spin” the foreign currency paid by ratepayers. We have never had a presentation on how much foreign currency got from rates- residents” said one stakeholder.
There were mixed feelings in the meeting as other stakeholders were recommending council to charge rates in USD, while others argued that most residents did not have access to foreign currency.
“We cannot pay in USD because we do not have it, let us try to solve this in reference to our currency because that is what we have access to,” fumed one stakeholder.