Mutare defends fee hikes

MUTARE - Mutare City Council (MCC) has defended its hike of clinic and burial fees, arguing that the move was part of a raft of measures to address unsustainable service delivery costs.

Acting town clerk Donaldson Nyatoti told the Daily News yesterday that council had been failing to meet overhead costs incurred in providing health and burial services, leading to a ballooning of council debts.

“... we were being forced to subsidise them, pushing us further and further into debt,” Nyatoti said.

Nyatoti added that the fees, particularly in the health sector, were also unrealistically low such that no drugs could be provided to patients.

“We have no other sources of funding for these services,” Nyatoti said.

About a fortnight ago, MCC hiked maternity fees from $15 to $20

The council also increased consultation fees by 350 percent from $2 to $9.

This was on the back of residents associations resisting the MCC’s supplementary budget, targeted at financing the purchase of Ipads for councillors among other things.

Rights organisations slammed the raise in health services, arguing that it made primary health care services unaffordable in the face of a deteriorating economic environment.

Nyatoti shot down claims that they were ignoring residents’ concerns, especially after an uproar over the supplementary budget.

“The increase was above board as we are empowered to make such adjustments through a council resolution which covers miscellaneous charges,” Nyatoti said.

He said council was not pushing through with the supplementary budget.

“Council resolved that in light of the current financial position of council, we are no longer going ahead with the supplementary budget but we will factor in what we wanted in the 2017 budget,” Nyatoti said.

Some residents associations had claimed that the rate increments were being smuggled after the supplementary budget had been denied by residents who did not see any urgency or importance in the issues it sought to address.

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