Un­paid bills clock $12m Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil en­gages 8 law firms

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Busi­ness Ed­i­tor

THE Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil has en­gaged eight law firms in a le­gal bat­tle to re­cover up to $12 mil­lion in un­paid bills by dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies and or­gan­i­sa­tions.

In its lat­est coun­cil re­port, the lo­cal au­thor­ity says it had to take the le­gal route as the amounts in ques­tion ex­ceeded $10 000, which the Mag­is­trate Court could not han­dle.

The Cham­ber Sec­re­tary’s of­fice re­ported that the com­pa­nies, whose names were not dis­closed, owed the lo­cal au­thor­ity a to­tal of $12 198 698 and had only paid a com­bined $2 697 572 by June this year, which ac­counts for 22 per­cent of the debt with a bal­ance of $9.5 mil­lion.

The coun­cil, how­ever, ac­knowl­edged the dif­fi­cult eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment that has seen scores of com­pa­nies fold­ing in the last few years while those re­main­ing were strug­gling to meet their obli­ga­tions.

“Ac­counts handed over to law firms were of big amounts, which the Mag­is­trate’s Court could not han­dle. They were com­posed mostly of com­pa­nies and or­gan­i­sa­tions which were find­ing it dif­fi­cult to op­er­ate un­der these un­favourable eco­nomic chal­lenges,” reads part of the re­port.

“Quite a num­ber of com­pa­nies had ei­ther stopped op­er­a­tions, were un­der ju­di­cial man­age­ment or un­der­go­ing liq­ui­da­tion, hence the low rate of re­cov­ery.”

All the stated en­ti­ties owe the lo­cal au­thor­ity about $1 mil­lion each with the high­est ow­ing $2.3mil­lion.

The en­gaged law firms in­clude: Ma­joko & Ma­joko, James Moyo-Ma­jwabu Part­ners, R Ndlovu and Com­pany, Dube, Banda, Nzarayapenga and Part­ners, Ad­vo­cate SK Sibanda and Part­ners, Ml­weli Ndlovu and part­ners, Lazarus and Sarif and T Hara and Part­ners.

Each law firm han­dles one ac­count.

With the demise of in­dus­try and sub­se­quent job losses, the coun­cil has suf­fered low rev­enues in­flows, which have crip­pled its ser­vice de­liv­ery ca­pac­ity across the board.

In the last few years, the city coun­cil has re­warded loyal rate pay­ers through rates dis­counts and re­cently it cred­ited a com­bined $800 000 in­cen­tive to com­pa­nies who any­thing. Last year the lo­cal au­thor­ity ex­tended a 50 per­cent dis­count in­cen­tive to in­dus­try and com­merce to mid-year to ease op­er­a­tional con­straints

o firms and en­cour­age pay­ment. Mean­while, the city is also swim­ming in a com­bined debt of $130 mil­lion owed to dif­fer­ent cred­i­tors as at end of Au­gust 2016. The bulk of debts are owed in salaries and al­lowances ($7 mil­lion), statu­tory con­tri­bu­tions, trade cred­i­tors, util­i­ties and med­i­cal ex­penses. In the same pe­riod ser­vice debtors to coun­cil owed a com­bined $136.5 mil­lion. The city col­lects on av­er­age $5 mil­lion per month in cash re­ceipts.

n res­i­dents and do not owe quick

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