Friday, September 17, 2021
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Mutare businesses groan under high tariffs

 

City of Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi

TellZim Reporter

With
most local authorities across the country adjusting their tariffs to the
prevailing economic conditions, the local businesses here have registered their
displeasure over the tariff increase by the City of Mutare which they say are
prohibitive.

City of
Mutare is said to have hiked shop licensing tariffs from US$450 to US$1 900 or
the equivalent in local currency depending on the size of business.

Business
owners who spoke to TellZim News said that the tariffs were prohibitive and the
council did not do proper consultations before adjusting their rates.

“We
know the economy is bad but why should we squeeze and push each other out of
business like this? We are all affected by the economy especially coming from
the Covid-19 lockdown and we have to meet halfway.

“What
justification do they have to hike licenses like that? What informed the hike?
We were never consulted and we are struggling just like everyone else.

“It is
no longer a viable option if the council charges us those exorbitant fees
without putting into consideration the fact that we have other bills to pay
including salaries for our staff,” said one businessman who operates a
furniture shop in the Central Business District (CBD).

He said
shop owners in Mutare wrote a petition to the city council a few months back
seeking redress but the petition was never addressed.

City of
Mutare spokesperson Spren Mutiwi told TellZim News that the tariff review were
done after the supplementary budget was approved and most businesses who had
not paid their shop licenses in time were the ones complaining.

“I am
not privy to the actual figures but the problem is that most businesses failed
to pay their licenses before the supplementary budget this year where the
reviews were made.

“Businesses
who paid their licenses before the supplementary budget have no problems
because the rates were still in local currency and had not been reviewed.

“The
supplementary budget made the reviews and pegged the fees in United States
dollars or equivalent in local currency,” said Mutiwi.

He said
the tariffs were fair to small businesses as people were now paying depending
with the size of their businesses.

“Big
businesses now pay more as opposed to the old norm where we had a one size fit
all approach. There is a distinction between small and big businesses now as we
are charging the tariffs per square meter,” said Mutiwi.

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