Gweru debtors’ bill balloons to $295m
GWERU City Council debtors’ bill ballooned to over $295 million as at December 31, 2020, an increase of $45 million in a space of three months from $250 million as at the end of September last year, NewsDay has learnt.
In his state of the city address yesterday, mayor Josiah Makombe said 2020 was a difficult year for the local authority due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whereas our debtors’ book figure was $80 568 409 as at December 31, 2019, the debtors (bill) ballooned during the year to close the financial year 2020 at $295 968 176,” Makombe said.
“The 2020 financial year was a difficult year due to the emergence of the COVID-19, which negatively affected the business community as well as the informal traders.”
He added: “This had a negative impact on the city’s finances and consequently on service delivery as we witnessed a downward trend in respect of inflows getting into our coffers.”
Makombe said the city’s billing for last month went up to $143 million with council expecting a proportional increase in next month’s collections.
He said council had intensified its debt collections efforts in a bid to improve service delivery.
The city boss said the local authority had started sending final demand letters to ratepayers and urged them to honour their obligations.
“I would like to apologise to those residents who got final demands when they were in actual fact up to date,” Makombe said.
“Kindly ignore those final demand letters and keep up the good spirit paying bills as and when they become due. My council is still working on a programme to award you with discounts for your good payment record.”
He said government approved this year’s budget early last month, with council effecting new tariffs in the January billing statements.