THE Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has appealed to its city council to avail the proposed 2021 budget and other public financial documents to the residents before the November 4 expiry date for them to submit their objections.
The city council early this month proposed a ZWL$16,030,483,310 budget for 2021 which will see rates going up by more than 300 percent.
However, budget consultation meetings were conducted through social media platforms due to the Covid-19 outbreak, a move that left residents without perusing the budget document.
BPRA Coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the residents were anxious to analyse the proposed budget before its adoption. The deadline for objections is November 4.
"BPRA would like to acknowledge BCC for its efforts towards engaging citizens in the governance of the city through making sure that the 2021 budget consultations took place on WhatsApp under the context of the imposed Covid-19 restrictions, which curtailed public gatherings. However, as BPRA we made efforts to mobilise residents to participate in these consultations and provided data to some of them," said Ndlovu.
"We further acknowledge BCC's efforts to avail the abridged version of the budget as well as the 2021 budget proposed tariffs."
However, he said the residents needed more time to study the proposed budget before approving or objecting to it.
"BPRA is further requesting for an unabridged version of the 2021 BCC' s draft budget for the purposes of analysing it before the November 4 deadline for any objections. The abridged version of the budget, which is currently in the hands of the public does not provide useful information required for any meaningful analysis," noted Ndlovu.
The BPRA coordinator said the residents are also concerned over that the proposed 2021 budget does not divulge much details about how council funds are used.
"The Bulawayo City Council should avail to the residents how much salaries, bonuses, allowances, benefits are being borrowed or given permanently from council coffers or assets to councillors or was apportioned to councillors in 2019 and 2020," he said.
Ndlovu argued that if the required documents are not provided on time, the entire budget process might be in danger of being a "ritual" with no purpose at all.