By Correspondent

Harare City Council (HCC) has unveiled a US$578 million budget even as it struggles with the non-payment of dues from residents and other ratepayers.

Council Finance Chairperson Costa Mande presented the budget on Thursday and clarified how council is caught in a precarious situation.

“The 2024 budget is a service delivery budget skewed towards water and sanitation, underpinned by robust governance,” he said.

“The debtors position remains a challenge as there is now a dilemma.

“Residents say deliver we pay, and we say pay and we deliver.

“To that effect, as we struggle with service delivery, the debtors position continues to rise and is now ZWL$486,58 billion as of 30 September 2023 from the January 1 position of ZWL$96,07 billion.

“This position has placed council in a dire situation regarding funding of service delivery operations,” he said.

Equally, council is also faced with a spike in the amounts it owes its own creditors.

Creditors stood at ZWL 193.65 billion as at 30 September 2023 from the 1 January 2023 balance of ZWL12.79 billion.

Mande said this is due to constrained cash-flows.

“The major drivers to the creditor’s position are statutory obligations at 35.20%.

“Electricity 20.70%, trade creditors 17.15 %, net salaries 13.11%, and water chemicals 13.79%.

“The surge in salaries in the month of June led to a significant increase in statutory obligations, as there is a direct relationship.

Budget Focus

The 2024 Budget has been crafted to improve service delivery and specifically water reticulation.

Almost half of the budget will go towards water and sanitation.

“The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme is a very key component of our city.”

If we perform well in this sector, we would have dealt with downstream problems particularly in the public health sector.

“The key outcome is improved water, sanitation and hygiene,” Mande said.

The WASH programme has a projected expenditure of US$216 478 100.

According to Mande, it will fund its activities through cost recovery tariffs devolution, loans and other sources.

The budget will also prioritize completion of the chlorine dioxide project at Morton Jaffrey Water Treatment Plant.

The project is expected to reduce the number of chemicals used in the purification of water.

Other programs include the building of schools and supporting social systems to cater for the vulnerable.

According to the budget, capital expenditure is US$135 994 300 and recurrent expenditure is US$442 554 600 totalling US$578 548 900.

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