by Mary Jane
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has been called upon to diversify its income revenue so as to ease the pressure on ratepayers who are currently the main source of revenue for the local authority. Mr Ntokozo Tshuma, an economics expert led the call during an annual BCC budget analysis program hosted by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association Bulawayo Residents Association and Women’s Institute for Leadership Development at the Bulawayo Club on Monday.
Tshuma implored the BCC to cushion residents and prevent itself from overreliance on the latter by diversifying its income generation. He postulated that there are a number of income-generating projects that the council could embark on.
As a partial consequence of the high unemployment rate, residents have for years been struggling to pay rates and this has tended to cripple service delivery. Tshuma emphasized that the council should not over-rely on revenue from rates but should come up with other innovative initiatives to generate more income.
” The security sector can be commercialized and allowed to offer services to other entities for a fee thus generating income for the council, he said.”
He further noted that some city council properties like bars are being leased out at rates below market value and that this has resulted in huge losses as it drastically lowered the amount of revenue generated.
Moreover, Tshuma beseeched council to emulate other African cities which have flourished in spite of the economic challenges they faced by doing away with the old revenue-generating systems.
“If we look at cities like Johannesburg, they are not excessively reliant on rate payments because they have opened up new investment opportunities through transport business like the Metro bus, setting up an electricity-generating firm called City Power. All these contribute to the local fiscus of the local authority,” he said.
Financial consultant and lecturer, Mr. Stevenson Dlamini highlighted housing allocation as a potential revenue-generating stream. He said, “Currently the demand for stands is outstripping supply.” He submitted that the council had the potential to generate more income from the selling of stands, payment of rates by new property owners as well as offering land to private developers.
Also gracing the meeting was gender, youth, and social dynamics expert, America Ndlovu, who during her presentation advocated for the adoption of a gender-responsive budget allocation by BCC in the future. She spelled out that budgeting through gender lenses enables the Council to address different community needs as well as cater for the most vulnerable members of society like women, children, and the disabled.