Bulawayo Council Resolves That 80% Of Rates Must Be Paid In Foreign Currency

3 months agoSun, 18 Feb 2024 07:16:06 GMT
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Bulawayo Council Resolves That 80% Of Rates Must Be Paid In Foreign Currency

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in Zimbabwe has passed a resolution stating that residents and businesses must pay 80 percent of their rates in foreign currency. The council argues that many service providers are demanding payment in foreign currency, leading them to implement this policy, The Sunday News reports. As a result, residents will only be required to pay 20 percent of their bills in the local currency.

The Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, confirmed the decision and stated that it was necessary to ensure effective service provision. He explained that if a resident is billed, for example, US$100, they must pay US$80 in foreign currency and the remaining US$20 in local currency at the day’s bank exchange rate. Mr Dube cited Statutory 142 of 2019, which allows for the use of multiple currencies, including the United States dollar, as legal tender. He said:

It is a clear directive, if a resident is billed US$100 they must come with US$80 in hard currency and the US$20 will be the one that will be paid in local currency using the day’s bank rate. This move was necessitated by the fact that all our service providers are demanding 100 percent forex or 80 percent forex to those that still take local currency. The decision has already come into effect as councillors have passed the motion. This is all necessitated by the fact that we also need to provide effective services to our residents and that is the only way we can remain afloat.

However, this decision has faced criticism and raised concerns among residents. Many believe that it will exacerbate financial strain, particularly for those who have difficulties accessing foreign currency. The Bulawayo United Residents Association (BURA) chairperson, Mr Winos Dube, expressed shock and accused the council of disregarding the needs of the poor, turning themselves into an elitist group. The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) secretary for administration, Mr Thembelani Dube, called for government intervention, stating that the resolution goes against the country’s laws and the multi-currency system.

The move by the BCC has created a divide between the council and residents, with calls for government intervention to address the situation. Residents argue that the multi-currency system should be respected, allowing them to pay their bills using any currency based on the auction rate. The resolution is seen by some as an overreach by the council, causing further hardship for the people of Bulawayo.

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Zimbabwe adopted a multicurrency regime in 2009 due to hyperinflation. In late 2023, the government announced that this regime would continue until at least 2030. However, most government workers are paid in Zimbabwe dollars. If they are required to pay bills in foreign currency, they may lose money because foreign currency is scarce and sold at a higher rate on the streets.

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