Chombo slams BCC over debt demand

ignatius_chomboBULAWAYO Bulawayo City Council is rumoured to be sending a delegation to Harare in the hope of recovering a US$3.3 million debt it is owed by the government. (Pictured: Ignatius Chombo)

However, the government has said the council should stop focusing on trivial issues. “We pay bills through different organs and the council should simply approach those departments. They themselves must focus on key issues like submitting their 2010 tariffs for approval rather than trying to embarrass the government,” said the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Ignatius Chombo. The deadline for submission of the councils’ budget proposals was set for November 31 last year and the Bulawayo City Council only finished their budget-making process last month.

The government’s indebtedness to Bulawayo city council has been a topical issue. In August last year some council officials were barred from disconnecting supplies at Ross Camp provincial police headquarters, a situation that was condemned by councillors. Mayor Thaba Patrick Moyo said the government’s failure to pay was a cause for concern and council was going to work round the clock to resolve the apparent standoff. “We are pursuing the issue in two ways: firstly we are going to attempt to show them the seriousness of the situation in our city in the hope of highlighting the critical need for money to develop the city,” said Moyo. If that fails, Moyo said they would be forced to use the normal channels of disconnecting water supplies. “Regardless of past experience where our staff was barred from disconnecting water at Ross camp we are going to be resilient and show them how serious we are. The city desperately needs that money,” the mayor said.

The issue was brought up for debate during a full council meeting held at the council chambers last week, with councillors suggesting that sterner measures had to be taken to recover the debt. According to the minutes of the meeting, government departments owe council a total of US$3 231 153, 18 with the Ministry of Water Resources and Development owing the most of US$1 124 128 followed by the Ministry of Home Affairs which owes about US$1 036 489. Of the total amount owed the government had only managed to pay US$66 268 as of July 2009, which is just over two per cent of the total.

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