THE Bindura Municipality is embroiled in a rift with the business community over a 2000 percent hike in licence fees and other rates, making the mining town the most expensive to operate in countrywide.
The aggrieved business people include property owners, retailers, wholesalers, and transport operators who feel the municipality ambushed them with astronomical operating licence fees.
Notable figures which drew the ire of some are bakery licences where operators will fork out ZWL31 000 from ZWL1 500, whereas the same service is pegged at ZWL7 500 in Mutare and ZWL9 000 dollars in Harare.
The vehicle parking fee, which is pegged at ZWL10 per hour in Harare, has been put at ZWL20 in Bindura.
The business people claim to have been issued with letters of demand back-dated to September, despite having been fully paid up to December at old rates.
“They changed the charges at an interbank rate and multiplied it by 20 anticipating inflation. T Hiring Tendai Hall would cost ZWL330 now it’s at ZWL6 600. As business people we are going to suffer, people are vending outside our premises but do not face ZIMRA or any obligation and no licence at the end, our crime is that we built properties. In the end, we have to sit down and discuss this budget of theirs. What will simply happen is that we will also increase our charges but in the end, it’s the consumer who will suffer, said one of the aggrieved business community members.
A representative of the business community Richard Phiri said discord is a result of the municipality’s hide and seek approach with stakeholders.
“Nobody was consulted therefore we are saying this budget should be reversed reviewed or revoked in line with the current economic trends, not speculation. Yes we acknowledge there should be an increase but not with over 1000 or 2000% it’s outrageous we just can’t afford that
Bindura Mayor Councillor Carlos Tokyo did not deny having packed tariffs using the parallel market rate but gave room for a review.
“We are working with the proposals they are giving to come up with a common ground. Our full council meeting will be held next week and members of the business community are also invited,” he said
The business community is the municipality’s major source of revenue, with residents believed to be contributing less than 40 percent of the town’s income.