BCC slashes licence fees

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has revised annual shop licences downwards in a bid to cushion companies facing cash flow problems.

Speaking at a business and media briefing at the Council chambers last week, Bulawayo Mayor Martin Moyo said the city had reviewed annual charges for Business Licenses downwards in line with council’s position for a standstill  2014 budget.

Companies which used to pay $450 for a 150 to 300 square metres shop size will now pay $300, while businesses that paid $100 for 20 square metres will now pay $75.

Moyo said the recent decision by BCC is meant to cushion businesses from the liquidity crunch that has led to closure of many companies while some are failing to pay licenses.

“In an effort to improve industrial activity in the city, council will with immediate effect offer incentives to companies that have supported the city,” said Moyo adding that; “We are worried about the level of business in the city of Bulawayo hence we have put measures to assist business in the city.”

BCC has also reversed penalties for business that did not clear their December 2013 accounts.

With effect from January this year, BCC will reverse the penalties if the December 2013 accounts are paid up and reverse interest charged on the December 2013 balance on condition that the company clears its dues before 30 June 2014.

BCC will also offer a once off discount of 50 percent on the company’s accounts balances as at December 31, 2013 upon payment of the account before June 30, 2014.

Association of Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) Chief Executive Officer Lucky Mlilo welcomed the council’s decision, saying the move would encourage industrial revival.

“The issues of increase in charges were raised at Abuz and we are happy that it has finally been laid to rest,” Mlilo said.

He added that, “The challenge is that businesses are faced with high utility charges and if they could be reduced, companies will be cushioned; hence help revive industry.”

Following the announcement of the 2014 council budget, there were complaints  from the business community who felt  that council was charging exorbitant licenses for shops.

The current license regime considers variations of shops above 500 square meters. Businesses in Bulawayo have continued to struggle in face of high water and electricity bills, while water and power cuts haunt operations on daily basis.

The move by BCC is expected to attract more players into the private sector as companies will now afford licenses despite the general liquidity crunch.

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