By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, September 27, 2016 – CASH-STRAPPED city residents have welcomed the Bulawayo City Council (BCC)’s decision not to increase tariffs for 2017, but were quick to say that should not compromise service delivery.
The authority on Monday proposed a “standstill” 2017 budget of $153 million with zero tariff increases.
Authorities said this was because of the prevailing harsh economic conditions which have seen the majority of residents struggle to pay their bills.
BCC chairperson of the finance committee, Malandu Ncube said the 2017 proposed expenditure budget is pegged at $105 457 120 and the capital budget at $48 109 346 to make a total of $153 566 466.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BUPRA) advocacy and programs manager, Emmanuel Ndlovu said in as much as they accepted the budget structure, coupled with the rate reprieve, their main concern was service delivery.
“It’s a piecemeal budget and it won’t respond to the major concerns. We expect service delivery that is commensurate with what we pay. They can justify these figures with failure to deliver,” he said.
He also queried whether residents’ input was really incorporated into the budget or that the process was simply meant to hoodwink residents, considering that the budget was already out soon after the consultations were concluded.
However, other residents welcomed the standstill budget saying they could not afford increases in tariffs in the current economic environment.
“We welcome this budget with open hands. This is good news for us as residents considering the condition of the economy,” said Ntabeni Tshuma from Magwegwe North.
Nomthandazo Ndlovu said the decision was welcomed given a number of people in Bulawayo were surviving on vending.
She said many people were struggling to pay their tariffs on time resulted the council cutting water supply from their houses.
She said the budget showed that the council was sensitive to the plight of people looking at the current economic situation.