BULAWAYO City Council plans to reward residents who religiously pay their bills and had no arrears as of June 2013, when the government instructed local authorities to write off debts.
By NQOBILE BHEBHE
The local authority wrote off $49 million in domestic debts, but the move haunted council, as it sunk deeper into financial crisis.
A total of 8 667 account holders had a balance of zero or below and have been enquiring when council would offer recognition for their efforts in keeping the city afloat.
Council now plans to credit such accounts with a once off amount of $100 per domestic account, translating to $942 323 in credits to ratepayers.
An official announcement will be made soon.
The proposal, contained in a development committee report dated November 19, 2015 said: “Following the ministerial directive of July 23, 2013, which directed that all domestic debts that were outstanding as at June 30, 2013 be written off, your council wrote off $49 million of domestic debts.
“While the directive brought relief to the majority of the residents who did not prioritise payment for the services they had received/enjoyed, it penalised those residents who paid their dues regularly.
“As a result residents with a good payment record have been enquiring when council would offer some recognition for their efforts in keeping the city afloat.”
In 2013, council resolved to grant a once-off credit to customers whose accounts were either zero or in credit.
It said the resolution would only be implemented when cashflow improved.
During the recent 2016 budget consultations, residents reminded council that it was yet to fulfil its promise to thank the good payers by crediting a token amount to their accounts.
“Now is the time to motivate the good payers by crediting some amount to their accounts,” council said.
“An analysis of the accounts shows that there were 7 921 domestic accounts whose balances at June 30, 2013 were zero or in credit (ie were showing over payments). ”
Council said the proposal was similar to what Zesa and TelOne did when they passed credits of $160 to customers’ accounts.
“If this is adopted, council will credit the 7 921 domestic accounts with $792 100,” the report said.
On non-domestic account holders, council would be crediting an amount equivalent to 10% of the total payments made on their accounts since November 1, 2013.
“Of the 1 744 accounts that had zero or negative balances in 2013, only 43% continued paying. By December 2014 a mere 11% of the accounts maintained a zero or negative balance,” the report added.
“[A total of] 555 accounts continued paying council despite the liquidity challenges, but failed to maintain their balance below zero, showing that some consumers may be demotivated by the lack of incentives to the good payers.”