GOVERNMENT has threatened to deal with local authorities demanding payment of bills in foreign currency at 1:1 exchange rate. BY RICHARD MUPONDE/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA This was said by Local Government deputy minister Marian Chombo yesterday in the National Assembly. MPs had said that some local authorities were demanding that ratepayers should settle their outstanding bills in foreign currency at the 1:1 exchange rate. Chombo said no one should be forced to pay in foreign currency as Zimbabwe was using the local currency and demanded the names of the local authorities doing so. “I want to tell this House that charges by councils must be in bond notes or Zimdollars. If a person comes to voluntarily pay in foreign currency, the money is paid using the auction rate. The 1:1 rate was abolished a long time ago. If there are complaints against councils forcing people to pay the 1:1 rate, please bring the complaints to us and we deal with them,” she said. Chombo said as government, they were encouraging the use of local currency. Local authorities have been appealing to government to allow them to present their budgets in foreign currency and also to bill ratepayers in the same way, so that they are able to improve on service delivery. However, government has on several occasions shot down the requests, saying only those with free funds could use them to pay, but using the auction rate.