MUTARE-A youth advocacy group has blasted the local municipality for astronomically raising shop licensing fees saying the move effectively discourages formalization of youth owned businesses.
Conscious Development and Empowerment Trust (CODET) says it ‘is outraged by the unilateral decision by council to hike shop license fees from USD450 to USD1600,” as it was out of touch of reality.
In a statement released today, the organization appealed for council to reconsider this ill-advised move which they said discourages compliance among small businesses.
“We view this as an ill-advised move which further constrains on women and youths run business operating to sustain, given the difficult macro environment. It raises the cost of compliance and discourages those starting out in business to formalize.
“The unreasonable hike of shop licenses comes in the midst of a ravaging COVID19 pandemic which has adversely affected the economy. Projections show that the Zimbabwean economy will register a -4.5% negative growth, it is thus apparent that 2020 has been a bad year for business.
“Hiking fees in such circumstances is unreasonable and an attack on businesses which have remained afloat during this difficult times. Mutare City Council need to consult with business owners and residents before making such outrageous moves.
“We thus call for a revision of this ill-informed move which will negatively impact youths and women more,” Vimbai Betere, CODET director said.
David Mutambirwa, of the Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) said ratepayers are likely to abscond such high amounts levied resulting in poor revenue generation, urging council to adopt manageable figures.
Mutambirwa lambasted councillors saying as city fathers in light of macro-economic challenges, should have worn a ‘human face in providing a sustainable billing regime which would live the business sector alive’.
“The city fathers are clearly showing gross insincerity and disregard of human face considering the worsening economic crisis bedeviling the country and the ravaging Covid 19 Pandemic which has literally crippled the business and informal economic sector.
“By endorsing the exorbitant rates the councilors did, not only, divorce themselves from the electorate but exhibited gross disrespect to the people who elected them in power,” he said.
Edson Dube, programs director of the United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) said this development essentially sounded a death knell to struggling business, heavily impacted by the Covid 19 induced lockdown.
“Our grievances stem from the fact that businesses have not been operating for at least four whole months this year. We are hoping that they council would be helping business because some businesses may never operate after this.
“We have engaged our constituency on this issue but over and above we all agree that these increases are exorbitant and not considerate of the plight of the residents,” he said.