BCC targets forex earners

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo City Council has set its sights on earning foreign currency (forex) from ratepayers domiciled in foreign lands as well as from international organisations operating in Zimbabwe in a bid to shore up its depleting coffers.

Town clerk Christopher Dube said the forex-generation strategies are part of a cocktail of austerity measures meant to cushion council against the free-falling economy which has impacted negatively on its financial coffers.

“The City of Bulawayo has not been exempted from the recent macro-economic downturn which has affected the entire nation,” Dube said.

“The city’s financial position has been depleted and council is barely managing to remain afloat and provide basic and decent services. The situation is dire and untenable and calls on the city of Bulawayo to implement austerity measures to ensure continued service delivery”.

Recently, the city fathers approved policy options and strategies to address the deteriorating socio-economic environment in the country.

Part of the strategies include encouraging payment of rates for ratepayers in the Diaspora, an express window for those wishing to pay for services in foreign currency and making foreigners and international organisations pay for services in hard currency.

With regards to the payment of rates in forex for those in the Diaspora, council has code-named the initiative khumbula ekhaya rates.

The city fathers have already opened an appropriate foreign currency account (domestic FCA) to cater for foreign currency payments.

Tied to these measures, council has also come up with a special stands express programme and outstanding contract renegotiation.

“An offer of 50 percent discount incentive is availed to foreign currency payments from ratepayers in the Diaspora to settle their rates through their Nostro accounts.

“This is, however, not limited to this category of Diaspora ratepayers alone, but also applies to local ratepayers who have access to hard currency,” Dube said.

He added: “The modalities of this facility are such that offshore ratepayers can pay directly to council’s Foreign Currency Account via their accounts, pay directly in cash through the express window for foreign currency at the Revenue Hall which has been made available for such payments.”

Dube said all payments made in foreign currency will get discounts where a full settlement attracts a 50 percent discount on total amount owing while part payments will get discounts on a pro rata basis.

As for the special stands express programme, 77 low density residential stands in Selbourne Park have been identified to pilot a programme where low density residential stands will be pre-sold to beneficiaries in foreign currency in order to raise servicing costs.

This scheme is open to both people in the Diaspora and locals with access to foreign currency funds.

The city fathers have since opened a special foreign currency desk at the Revenue Hall licensing section to serve everyone paying in foreign currency. 

“Exchange rates are updated on a daily basis and displayed at the banking halls for ease of conversion since all forms of foreign currency are accepted,” Dube said.

The town clerk further noted that all international organisations that are operating within the city who pay for council services through their landlords or directly to city council, are now expected to make payments in foreign currency with immediate effect.

“They are also encouraged to utilise the express window at Revenue Hall when making payments. The above measures have been taken to strengthen the multi-currency system for financial and price stability and to increase inflows of foreign currency for sustained service delivery,” Dube said.

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