Eskom ‘able to pay work­ers’

Util­ity is not plan­ning to re­trench

The Witness - - YOUR MONEY -

POWER util­ity Eskom has enough cash to pay wages and keep op­er­a­tions go­ing for a few months and does not plan to re­trench any work­ers de­spite a liq­uid­ity crunch, its spokesper­son said yes­ter­day.

Eskom is in the midst of a lead­er­ship crisis and has been at the heart of al­le­ga­tions of il­le­gal con­tracts and un­due in­flu­ence in award­ing ten­ders to the Gupta fam­ily — friends of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

Zuma and the Gup­tas have de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

“The fi­nance divi­sion has in­di­cated there isn’t any hin­drance in our abil­ity to make those pay­ments [wages],” Khulu Phasiwe, spokesper­son for the coun­try’s sole power sup­plier said.

“This is why we’ve been negat­ing these re­ports that we only have R1,2 bil­lion in our cof­fers. Al­though we have not met our tar­get of R20 bil­lion in terms of re­serves, we still have enough cash to keep us go­ing for a few more months,” he said with­out giv­ing a time­frame.

Phasiwe said the util­ity would step up power in­ter­rup­tions and cut­offs to mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties and house­holds with out­stand­ing debts, which had risen by R4 bil­lion to R11,2 bil­lion since the start of its fi­nan­cial year in April.

“If we are able to re­trieve this R11,2 bil­lion it will ob­vi­ously help us con­tinue op­er­a­tions,” Phasiwe said.

He said the util­ity would draw down on the cur­rent loan fa­cil­i­ties they had, in­clud­ing a R350 bil­lion guar­an­tee from govern­ment, and sell­ing more elec­tric­ity to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries in or­der to plug the rev­enue gap.

Eskom’s act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Sean Maritz said on Mon­day the util­ity had enough cash to meet it com­mit­ments.

Eskom ex­pects its debt to peak at R500 bil­lion in 2021, up from R350 bil­lion cur­rently.

Credit rat­ings agen­cies say state firms such as Eskom and loss­mak­ing SAA should be re­formed and cite the cost of prop­ping them up as a threat to the rat­ing of Africa’s most in­dus­tri­alised econ­omy, which S&P Global Rat­ings and Fitch have down­graded to “junk”.

On Mon­day Eskom said it had healthy stock­piles across its coal­fired power sta­tions and was build­ing them fur­ther ahead of a po­ten­tial coal wage strike by the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers.

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