Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Harare City Council will soon approach the Government to be allowed to start levying certain businesses, rates in foreign currency.
Council believes this will improve revenue inflows and service delivery as it imports certain key materials needed for public works.
Council is struggling to collect refuse and to provide clean water to residents as it is facing challenges securing forex for the purchase of water treatment chemicals and fuel.
Harare town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango on Tuesday said council would first target businesses that trade exclusively in foreign currency.
“There are certain areas that without US dollar, cannot be run efficiently including water treatment chemicals and fuel purchases,” he said.
He said council was still negotiating with Government to be allowed to sell stands in foreign currency and to charge lease rentals in US dollars.
According to the finance and development committee report tabled in a full council meeting last year, Harare resolved that land was an immovable asset and its use should bring equitable value.
“Council authorises the town clerk and the acting finance director to quote lease rentals as well as land purchase prices in a stable currency with the actual payments being made in prevailing equivalent official interbank rate at the date of the actual payment,” read part of the minutes.
Harare Residents Trust director, Mr Precious Shumba, also proposed that Government allows council to levy rates in forex.
“The central Government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and its different agencies, like the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, have to authorise local authorities to charge their rates in foreign currency,” he said.
“The citizens would be served better with enhanced service provision than suffer the consequences of deteriorating social services while paying in our local currency.”
Mr Shumba however said the option to charge in foreign currency should not be automatic as council was supposed to first demonstrate its ability to transparently utilise available resources.
There are concerns that Harare’s 2020 approved budget has since been eroded by inflation leaving council struggling to offer basic services.
Council requires between US$2,5million to US$3 million per month for the purchase of water purification chemicals depending on the quality of raw water.
Harare’s desire to charge in forex comes at a time when most fuel retailers are now demanding forex.
Statutory Instrument 61 of 2020 says any person may pay for goods and services in Zimbabwe dollars or in foreign currency using his or her free funds at the ruling rate on the date of payment.