Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is seriously considering billing residents in foreign currency with residential stands also set to be sold in United States dollars.
In its latest report, BCC said using local currency no longer makes sense as the Zimbabwe dollar is fast losing value thus affecting service delivery.
The report further indicated that residents have been unwilling to pay bills in foreign currency mainly due to the official exchange rate that is not attractive and has therefore resolved that those paying in local currency will pay at the agreed US$: Zim dollar rate for the day. Part of the report reads:
Council should price stands in foreign currency. Those who have not paid off their purchase prices for stands will have the balances converted to foreign currency.
That council should rebase the 2020 budget and its tariffs to US dollars. Billing will be based on the US dollar tariff converted to Zim dollars.
Payment by customers can be in US dollars or Zim dollars at alternative foreign currency market rates.
Although the council has been willing to accept payments in foreign currency for services and payment of bills since 29 March 2020, none has yet been received.
Customers have made inquiries on paying in foreign currency but have found the official interbank rate of $25 which council is using not attractive when compared to the parallel market exchange rate.
BCC has based its decision to charge in forex on Statutory Instrument 85 of 2020, allowing citizens to pay for goods and services chargeable in Zimbabwe dollars, in a foreign currency using free funds.
A previous Statutory Instrument, SI 212 of 2019 had made it illegal to quote prices and collect in foreign currency or units other than the Zimbabwe dollar.