South Africa: Down the Rabbit Hole - Three Committees, Three Takes On Eskom

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As National Treasury told MPs of the 'dire' situation at Eskom, the public enterprises committee was reassured by the power utility that it had a plan. Parliament's public spending watchdog Scopa didn't quite agree after visiting Kusile and Medupi. Three committees, three takes.

There are a few hard truths, and numbers. Eskom's debt is at more than R440-billion and rising, according to the power utility's own financials. National Treasury says debt repayments now stand at R80-billion a year.

Eskom has enough money until the end of October, according to Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan. That's largely been made possible by the emergency release of R17.652-billion through Section 16 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) in late March 2019 after Eskom could not meet its obligations and for 72 hours pushed South Africa to the brink of economic collapse.

If Eskom had failed to meet its liabilities it would have led to a demand for immediate repayment of all debt -- government has guaranteed some R300-billion of Eskom's debt -- which would have triggered a complex cross-call-in of tens of billions of government-guaranteed debt at other state-owned entities (SOEs) such as SAA, Denel and the South African National Roads Agency...

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