Harare hikes charges in $472m budget

HARARE City Council has hiked water charges by an average of 17% while clamping, towing and storage charges have been increased by 100% for 2019, further heaping more levies on the overtaxed ratepayers.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Harare yesterday presented a $472 million budget, with $125 million targeting capital projects while $346 million was meant for recurrent expenditure.

The budget statement presented by finance committee chairperson, councillor Luckson Mukunguma for approval, targets to raise revenue amounting to $346 266 700 and spend $346 231 200, leaving a surplus of $35 500.

However, residents should brace for a 19% increase in water bills as the city seeks to deal with high costs of water treatment chemicals and machinery spare parts.

“Your worship, the justification for water tariffs increases has been a drastic increase in cost of inputs namely chemicals, cost of repairs and maintenance, capital charges on borrowed funds for capital works and other operational expenses,” said Mukunguma.

For residents in high-density areas, who are facing perennial water cuts, Mukunguma proposed an increase from 70 cents to 83 cents for 1 to 10 cubic meters of consumed water and 80 cents to 93 cents for 11 to 20. Those in the low-density areas will be charged 95 cents for 1-10 cubic meters of water pumped up from 80 cents and $1,30 for 11 to 20 cubic meters up from $1,20. For anything above 20 cubic meters, the low-density residents will have to pay $1,50.

Bulk water supply has been increased from 70 cents to 83 cents and industrial areas will be charged $1,43 for 100 cubic meters up from $1,20 and anything above 100 cubic meters will be charged $1,70 up from $1,50.

Harare water woes are set to continue as council, which has been battling to provide potable water to residents and has been pumping 420 mega litres per day against a demand of 1 200 mega litres, will increase capacity by 100 mega litres by year end. Harare has set aside $51 million in the 2019 capital budget for water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.

The city also increased sewerage fees for both low and high-density areas by $1. Those in high-density areas will now pay $5 from $4 per fitment and those in low-density areas will next year pay $10 up from $9 per fitment.

In a bid to deal with the traffic crisis, council has proposed to increase clamping, tow away and storage charges by 100%.

According to Mukunguma, the 2019 budget will run under the theme: “Transformative budget; towards a smart city” and its capital projects will be financed by loans and internal revenue.

In the 2018 budget, council between January and September collected $145 million with salaries getting the larger part of $83 million while service delivery got $62 million.

“Your worship, salaries and allowances are within projections. However, general expenses which posted a huge positive variance of $60 million from the budgeted $99 million are a cause for concern as this impact negatively on service delivery. Constrained revenue inflows are a major impediment,” Mukunguma said.

Council budgeted $8 million for roads and $14 million for public safety and security services.