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.