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City proposes $41m budget
Stephen Chadenga

Gweru proposes $41m ‘standstill’ 2017 budget
GWERU City Council has proposed a standstill 2017 budget of $41 million, with no increase in tariffs in a bid to cushion residents against the harsh economic environment.

Acting town clerk, Edgar Mwedzi yesterday told NewsDay that the “depressed economic environment” necessitated the move and said council had to come up with innovative ways to deliver services at low cost.

“Because of the depressed economic environment, the 2017 budget will be a standstill budget, which shall give emphasis on adopting strict fiscal discipline and a raft of cost cutting measures and revenue enhancement strategies,” he said.

Mwedzi said council had to make policy decisions, changes and “close loss making services” to save money that could be channelled towards service delivery.

“The obtaining difficulties facing residents and all other clients do not favour any slight increase in any of council tariffs, therefore, council will have to be innovative in delivering services at low cost without compromising quality.”

Mwedzi said the salary budget was split between workers, who provide direct services and those providing support services with a slight increase in the wage bill, which he said was meant to accommodate substantive heads of departments.

“Those who provide administrative services will consume 13% of the total budget at $5 396 670 (from last year’s $5 311 783), while those directly linked with service delivery will consume $9 563 074 (from the previous year’s $9 442 171), accounting for 23%,” he said.

“The budget has slightly gone up to accommodate heads of departments, who are still to be recruited.”

But Gweru Residents and Ratepayers’ Association chairperson, Cornelia Selipiwe said there was nothing to show this was a standstill budget, accusing the councillors of confusing people.

“As residents, we might have a layman’s point of view, but city fathers should surely not confuse us. Last year’s budget was $31m and next year’s is $41m, to us there is an increase of $10m, so where is the standstill,” he said.

“We do not even want a standstill, the budget should be reduced because council last year cut workers’ salaries and terminated all contract workers, this is good enough reason for a reduction.”

Selipiwe said council should convene budget consultative meetings on weekends and not in the middle of the week, when some people were at work, as what they were doing was equivalent to “cosmetic consultations”.

The consultations are expected to end this week.

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