Councils offer discounts to taxpayers

The local authorities of Zimbabwe, who owe more than $ 2 billion, now desperately need their ratification to recover some of the money.

Since the beginning of the year, most councils offer between 30 and 50 percent discounts to residents who are their biggest debtors.

As a Zanu PF campaigner for the harmonized elections in 2013, Ignatius Chombo, the local minister, wrote off water and utilities for taxpayers.

The cancellation of debts has led to the loss of income for various local authorities, which has led to a deterioration in services.

Since then, all councils have not yet been able to recover from the write-off, because their own debts to their creditors have not been covered by the demolition of debts.

The newest local authority to jump on the cheap train car is the municipality of Chitungwiza that started offering 30 percent off last week.

According to their spokesman Lovemore Meya, the discounts for residents with a credit of $ 150 and lower on August 31, with the promotion until November 30.

At this moment the local government owes $ 71.657 million on August 21st and they owe their creditors $ 76.839 million from July 21st.

In March Ruwa Local Board started with a discount regime of 30 to 50 percent on all the money they owed.

According to the board if a customer paid 70 percent of his arrears, the board would immediately write off the remaining 30 percent.

Ruwa Local Board also stated that for all those who had no arrears and flowed with their accounts, the local government would offer them a 50% discount for the next three months.

Despite giving a discount, according to the forum of financial directors, Ruwa is one of the few local authorities with a high collection rate of almost 80 percent.

In April, the city council of Harare, which received more than $ 750 million, gave a 30 percent discount to taxpayers because the incentive was intended to recoup part of the money due to the local government.

It was only recently that they began to give a 50 percent discount, but the allegations claim that they are not being implemented despite full payment of the debt.

In May, the Kadoma City Council (KCC) started with discounts of 30 to 40 percent for residents who canceled their debts.

KCC, which owes more than $ 33 million due to its rate checks, decided last year to call in debt collectors to recover the money.

Discounts that Kadoma had previously offered, with up to 40 percent offered by the city, yielded no results because some residents could not redeem their debts.

Chinhoyi in June decided to grant a 30 percent discount during a full board meeting as an incentive for residents to pay.

"The incentive is intended to encourage the approval of utility bills by all residents and businesses.

"For every dollar paid, the customer gets a premium of $ 30 plus thirty cents," said Chinhoyi City Secretary Maxwell Kaitano.

Zimbabwe, the president of the local government, Bernard Manyenyeni, claims that while local authorities have a mandate to provide services, taxpayers also have to pay.

He said that the only problem comes when residents pay for the services that are not delivered to them by the councils.
"Services such as water and waste are not free.

"Water has to be treated first before it goes to taxpayers, with such services coming with responsibilities that unfortunately have to be taken by taxpayers," said Manyenyeni.

According to a report from the We Pay You Deliver Consortium, the biggest deterrent to the financial viability of local authorities remains debtors.

In a report from the Consortium Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare owe more than $ 1 billion.

The Consortium argues that unless the councils stop providing services to and invoicing buildings and businesses that were closed, this would continue to cost the local authorities for waste of resources.

"Between 2015 and 2016, the debtors increased by 24 percent for all 5 cities ($ 148 947 193), while Harare recorded the highest increase in debtors (32 percent), while Gweru recorded a decrease of the debtors by 34 percent.

Local governments must view and understand important debtors. For example, there is no economic reason in ongoing invoicing companies or properties that have since been closed. "

"The ability of a local government to provide services depends on the revenue it collects, which is the fundamental fundamental fact that residents, businesses and the government must appreciate.

"A debt restructuring strategy should therefore be pursued by local authorities. It remains the responsibility of the associations of residents or civil society organizations to establish a sense of responsibility among the citizens so that they fulfill their obligations towards the local authorities" , they read in the report of the consortium.

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