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Council charging in US dollars

Mutare City Council has started accepting payments in United States dollars, while increasing the local currency charges for burial space, clinic and parking fees by an average of 190 percent in a development that council says will enable them to improve service delivery.

Council has been struggling to meet its obligations owing to decreased revenue collection.

In a statement, the council said Statutory Instrument 85 of 2020, as well as the agreement made by stakeholders during supplementary budget consultations in July, empowers the local authority to collect rates and other tariffs in foreign currency

According to the statement, miscellaneous tariffs will be based in foreign currency, but residents can still make payments using local currency at the prevailing official rate.

However, parking, burial and clinic fees remain pegged in local currency, but have been increased by 300 percent, 120 percent and 150 percent respectively.

“All tariffs — commercial, industrial, institutional and residential — will convert to USD with effect from October 1, 2020. Until the 1st of October 2020, no changes will be made to all residential tariffs. All commercial and institutional billable tariffs have been increased by 350 percent with effect from the 1st of August 2020 pending implementation of 1st of October 2020 US$ tariffs,” reads the statement.

According to the resolutions made in the budget consultations in July, water will be pegged at US$0,37 per cubic metre ( first band), while rates will maintain the 2019 valuation roll figures. The rest of the tariffs will be rebased to the January 2020 budget in USD.

Council has also offered residents a 20 percent discount on all payments made in hard currency.

However, residents say pegging tariffs in foreign currency will disadvantage the poor and further put pressure on their low incomes.

United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) programmes director, Mr Edson Dube said council should have made further consultations before effecting the changes to ensure some buy-in from all stakeholders.

“We all know that most residents will not be able to pay in US dollars as their salaries are paid in local currency, including council employees. It is too early for such a move,” he said.

He also said it is insensitive for council to effect a burial and clinic fee increase during this Covid-19 era as more people are currently in need of those services.

“Increasing fees for services directly linked to the pandemic will increase the people’s burden,” said Mr Dube.

Source | ManicaPost