BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) potentially lost over $1 billion in potential revenue since October owing to delays by government to approve its supplementary budget.
The council in September 2020 proposed a $2,85 billion supplementary budget to hedge against inflation-induced rising costs of goods and services.
The supplementary budget, expected to come into effect in October was going to result in a 373% hike in rates and tariffs, but was only approved in January this year.
A latest council report however shows that city fathers argued the late approval of the supplementary budget cost council in excess of $1 billion in potential revenue.
“This approved budget would see council’s monthly accrual improving from around $90 million to over $400 million.
“It should be noted that it was council’s expectation to implement this tariff review from October 2020.
“As such, council had lost three months accrual or a loss of income in excess of $1 billion,” reads in part the council report.
“Therefore the budgeted income compared to the actual income for year 2020 would reflect a negative variance of that magnitude,” the council report adds.
As residents opposed the supplementary budget, the council justified itself arguing that its 2020 budget of $2,7 billion had been eroded by exchange rate movements, inflation, price hikes, interest rates and labour costs.
Council’s 2021 budget stands at $17 billion.
However, the Local Government ministry has not yet approved it.
Ratepayers have on several occasions called on the local authority to look for alternative revenue sources instead of punishing them with unaffordable charges to fund its budget.
In 2019, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) went as far as calling on the BCC to stop funding its Premier League side, Bulawayo City and redirect the resources to service delivery.