Harare City Council says it is targeting to pocket $8 million in revenue from license fee collection from businesses that operate in the Central Business District (CBD) following an audit being carried out in the capital city.
The audit exercise commenced on April 9, 2019 and seeks to ascertain the number of businesses operating in the CBD as well as make them comply with their licensing requirements.
Businesses that fail to comply with the requirements risk closure as they had been given ample time to do so, according to city authorities.
HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme, said the inspections will be extended to businesses operating in suburban areas.
“This is an all year round exercise because licences expire at different times while new businesses also open any time. We expect in excess of $8 million, we are targeting all businesses,” said Chideme responding to questions from this publication.
“We want to collect revenue due to council and ensure compliance with standard operating procedures. We are also compiling the number of businesses in the city and information on areas of trade to allow for planning purposes.”
During this exercise, fire compliance inspections will also be done.
Chideme said compliance with the licensing requirements was necessary for the city authorities to improve on service delivery, in a bid to bring back city to a world class city status by 2020. This should help enhance competitiveness and therefore attract investment.
HCC has also called on business operators to spruce up properties in the CBD in a move aimed at improving the city’s ambience.
Currently, cities, especially Harare have suffered massive decay on the back of an increase in illegal activities such as vending on pavements and roadways, illegal transport services, congestion and general uncleanliness.
Erratic utilities supplies have also contributed to the city’s uncompetitiveness.
Experts say this has also contributed to high void levels recorded by commercial properties in the CBD, as tenants move to quieter areas such as office parks and suburban offices to avoid the congestion and noise while others succumb to economic pressure.
As a result, the property industry especially in the CBD has recorded declines in rental income due to voids in the CBD, with market watchers calling for a re-look at the country’s town-planning regulations as well as consider multiple uses for CBD properties.