Harare to scrap fixed water charges

Minister Kasukuwere

Minister Kasukuwere

Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
Harare City Council is set to slash industrial and commercial fixed water charges to $25 from $50 and scrap fixed water charges for low and high-density areas if the $319,5 million budget that was tabled yesterday is approved. Charges are currently pegged at $9 and $4 for low-density and high density areas, respectively.

But while hospital fees for adults and children at $10 and $5 correspondingly are not going to be reviewed, patients will have to fork out $150 for a Caesarean operation. Presently, council does not charge for the procedure. City of Harare plans to scrap interest charges on debts held by residents once they agree payment plans with the local authority. Presenting the budget at Town House yesterday, finance and development committee chairperson councillor Luckson Mukunguma said the city expects to generate $269,3 million, from which salaries and allowances will chew up $114,8 million.

The remaining $154,5 million would go towards service delivery. Much of the revenues are expected from increased water sales and enforcement of property tax payments for domestic, industrial and commercial stands and buildings. HCC also plans to expand refuse collection to areas that were not covered before.

“I recommend that interest on all domestic consumer accounts be written off upon fulfilment of the terms and conditions of an agreed payment plan. That property tax for commerce and industry, business licensing fees as well as market fess be reduced downwards by 15 percent,” he said.

“The successful implementation of the programmes spelt out above requires that various stakeholders including the ratepayers of the city of Harare pay their bills when they fall due. This is the only way council will be able to provide services to their expectation,” he said.

Of the city council’s revenue streams, Harare water is projected to contribute $88,5 million; property tax $93 million; refuse collection $26,8 million, estates $13,9 million; rentals, leases and markets $9,8 million; administration and city architect $5,9 million, clamping and towing $3,4 million; health fees $5,1 million; and the informal sector $1,2 million. Harare is proposing to float international tenders for the procurement of imported water treatment chemicals. There are also plans to buy locally manufactured water treatment chemicals and other goods and services direct from the manufactures.

Last year, the city had proposed a $448 million budget for 2017 which Local Government, Rural Development and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere rejected, saying it was too high and unrealistic. He then approved a revised budget of $328,2 million after the local authority trimmed it by more than $100 million.

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  • Adagio

    It is a step in the right direction but still not enough. Elsewhere, charges for flats are pegged at the same level as for stand alone houses in medium to low density houses. The problem with this is that it overstates the charges for flats in comparison with those for stand-alone houses. A house, which is, say, on an acre stand, when charged as one unit and the same rating is applied to each flat on the same acre size of stand, means that Council gets multiple times the rate from the flats as they do from the house stand. If the same acre accommodates say 10 flats, it means that Council is getting ten times on the flats’ stand what they get on a single stand-alone house’s stand. The rating should be discounted for flats for this reason. Anyone who owns both flats and houses may have noticed this.