Gweru starts budget consultation meetings

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GWERU City Council last week started budget consultation meetings that ended on Sunday with the proposed budget set to be presented on November 11.
The local authority engaged various stakeholders among them business community, residents, informal traders, NGOs, civic society and churches to review the performance of the rebased 2022 budget and get input for the 2023 proposed budget.
Gweru City Council Public Relations Officer Vimbai Chingwaramusee said they had started consultation meetings on Thursday ending on Sunday.
She confirmed that the Finance team had come up with a budget proposal which went through the hands of council, management and finance committee.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) executive director Cornelius Selipiwe condemned council for “hurrying” in doing the budget without adhering to the 31-day period for stakeholders to inspect the budget.
“My thoughts are that they should always try to do this budget in time so that they can have adequate time because this same budget is supposed to be inspected but if they are supposed to submit on the 11th of November and today is only the 1st of November then it means the 31-day period they are supposed to give us to inspect and submit our objections is not met.
“So legally or procedurally this is wrong. Then we have a serious challenge. At the end of the day this is why people don’t attend these budget consultation meetings…,” said Selipiwe.
According to the proposed 2023 budget and tariff schedule and 2022 budget performance report, Gweru City Council is drafting the budget anticipating that inflation will be around 35-53 percent and that main funding will be from Council`s own resources.
“(Council) expect to be granted borrowing powers for ZWL 500 million for internally funded projects, expect to get ZWL 302,593,300 devolution grant from Central Government and expect ZWL 167,560,147 grants from ZINARA,” read part of the proposed budget in possession of this publication.
“Whereas we crafted our budget factoring in an inflation rate of inflation of 53 percent and an exchange rate of 1USD:105.69ZWL, the rate of inflation as of August 2022 had gone up to 285 percent and the exchange rate had escalated to 1USD: ZWL546.83 as at 31st August 2022 respectively.”
The finance team noted that weighted interest rate on borrowing for corporates was 39.62 percent in January 2022, but is now pegged at 200 percent.
“This makes borrowing an unsustainable option for procuring vehicles, plant and equipment,” said the report.
The finance team has come up with strategies to improve budget performance, which include implementing revenue enhancement and cost containment measures and zero tolerance to corruption and bribes.
Some of the strategies are mobilising internal resources to boost capital spending, thus reducing overdependence on grants from government. This, the finance team said, requires a tariff increase across the board of eight percent.

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