Few Bulawayo companies have taken the city council’s offer to reduce their bills if they settle outstanding accounts, forcing the local authority to extend the incentives to next month.
The council had offered a once-off discount of 50% on company accounts balances as at December 31 2013 if the accounts were settled before June 30 this year.
However, council’s finance manager Isaac Matare yesterday said out of 3 853 debts only 485 commercial account holders had utilised the facility.
Matare was speaking at a poorly attended business community 2015 budget consultative meeting in Bulawayo. “Council gave a discount of $2,07 million to industry and commerce.
Council has 3 853 commercial accounts and only 458 account holders participated in the promotion,” he said.
“Council has since extended the promotion to end of September.”
The council waived penalties and interest rates on outstanding accounts.
It emerged at the meeting that residents now owe the council $42 million in outstanding billsBulawayo mayor Martin Moyo said it was disturbing that within a year after writing off debts amounting to $49 million, debts were ballooning again.
“From 2009 to 2013, domestic debt was $49 million. last year (local Government minister lgnatius Chombo) gave a directive to write off debts,” he said.
“We wrote off $49 million, but in just under a year residents owe $42 million. It’s worrying.”As of June, council was owed$84 million with the government contributing $4 million and industry owed $37 million.
Council last year announced a $114 million budget for 2014, but in April the government ordered the local authority to slash it by $10 million.