Source: BCC works on recovering $29,1bn from residents | Sunday News (Business)
Rutendo Nyeve, Sunday News Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is set to read all functional water meters and bill residents basing on actual consumption to eliminate high bills caused by previous estimates as it battles to restore customer confidence and recover its $29,1 billion owed by residents.
Recent council minutes show that the local authority billed $52,5 billion for rates and fees last year and only collected $20,7 billion.
“Council had billed $52,5 billion for rates and fees in the year 2022 and collected $20.7 billion. The average collection efficiency on billed accounts was 39 percent. The balance of debtors as at 19 January 2023 stood at $29,1 billion,” said the financial director, Mr Kimpton Ndimande, in a report.
The increase in tariffs as well as manpower challenges have been identified as one of the factors that contributed towards the low collection efficiency.
“Revenue collection was key in ensuring availability of necessary funding for the procurement of resources for efficient service provision. Amongst the factors that contributed to the low collection efficiency in the year 2022 were the increase in tariffs in January 2022 and subsequent rebasing of tariffs. Manpower challenges also had a negative impact on the revenue collection,” said Mr Ndimande in the report.
He said the local currency tariffs were adjusted five times last year.
“The month of May had the lowest collection efficiency due to the commencement of rebasing. Following stability of the exchange rate, resourcing of the debt management unit with interns for customer liaison, vehicles for cut-off, printers for receipting and debt management plus generators for district offices with effect from September, collection efficiency had been improving to above 50 percent of billing in December,” said Mr Ndimande.
The local authority has set various targets in an effort to improve revenue collection and reduce the number of debtors.
“We have a target to restore customer confidence in the bills through reading all functional meters for four consecutive months and billing based on actual consumption to eliminate high bills caused by previous estimates.
“In conjunction with Engineering Services Department we target to replace malfunctioning bulk meters on an on-going basis, reduce customer turnaround time to two minutes for card paying customers across all service centres and separate bulk cash payments from express cash payments. We also target to decongest revenue halls through improving integration of online payment modes, e-bills accessibility and customer confidence in them,” said Mr Ndimande in the report.
The local authority is also set to follow up on defaulting customers and enforce payment within 90 days. The Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works is on record saying local authorities should find measures to entice their debtors to pay and improve their income using available revenue sources so they can be able to provide basic services as well as pay employees.
Revenue sources for local authorities include but not limited to real estate tax on commercial buildings, rates, land lease charges, land tax, building fees, licences and market place fees. – @nyeve14.