Government allocates extra R59bn for cash-strapped Eskom  

The South African government has allocated an extra R59 billion ($4.24 billion) to struggling state-owned power utility Eskom over the next two years so it can service its debt, a special appropriation bill seen by Reuters on Monday showed.

Eskom, which supplies more than 90% of the country’s electricity but was forced to implement power cuts this year, fails to generate sufficient profit to meet its debt servicing costs and has required state cash injections to stay afloat.

The latest allocation, sourced from the government’s National Revenue Fund, provides R26 billion for the 2019/20 financial year and R33 billion for 2020/21.

“For the purpose of promoting transparency and the effective management of the amount … the Minister of Finance, in writing, may impose conditions to be met by Eskom before any part of the amount is transferred,” the bill read.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni is expected to discuss the bill in parliament on Tuesday.

In April, Mboweni authorised more than R17 billion for Eskom following a delay in the utility accessing funding from the China Development Bank.

Beyond the cash injections, South Africa is also weighing other support options for Eskom including swapping the firm’s debt for government bonds or ring-fencing it in a special account, a senior treasury official said earlier this month.