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    Business calls on government to fund diesel puchase for Eskom


    December 9, 2022 - Siphelele Dludla

     

      A number of business organisations have voiced their concern at the country’s ongoing blackouts, and urged the government to finance the required diesel purchases for Eskom in a bid to keep the lights on.

      This comes as Eskom began implementing Stage 6 load shedding due to ongoing breakdowns at a number of its ageing coal-fired power stations, crippling economic activity.

      In a joint statement today, the Energy Council of South Africa, Business Unity South Africa (Busa), and Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) urged Eskom to take all the necessary steps to mitigate a deepening of the crisis.

      They said the elevated stages presented a major safety and security risk to assets, businesses, and ordinary citizens.

      “We further call on government to fund adequate and reliable diesel supply for our national peaking generators, which are critical to ensuring that Eskom can best manage a stable grid and mitigate a further escalation in load shedding levels,” they said.

      “Although this is a short-term measure, it is an important bridge for the ongoing maintenance work and unplanned outages over the next six months.”

      The National Treasury said on Thursday in a statement that it had noted requests for clarity about discussions to assist Eskom with the purchase of diesel.

      This as the power utility last month said it had blown its budget and already spent in excess of R12 billion this year on diesel.

      "The staggered nature of the budget process... makes it difficult to consider and accommodate any ad hoc funding requests outside of this process, especially large requests that are made at short notice,” Treasury said.

      "That said, the National Treasury and the Minister of Finance are acutely aware of the impact that Eskom’s diesel shortages may have on already severe levels of load shedding.

      “For that reason, the National Treasury will continue with the engagements with the Department of Public Enterprises and Eskom aimed at identifying solutions to this matter."

      Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has directed Eskom’s management and Board to work hard to get the country out of Stage 6 load shedding with immediate effect.

      Meanwhile, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) and the Black Business Council (BBC) slammed the government leadership and Eskom’s top executives, for failing to contain rolling blackouts which crippled economic activity and jeopardised investment into the country.

      Sacci CEO Alan Mukoki, said it was becoming increasingly clear that the solutions thrown at the Eskom problem were insufficient, adding that the crisis was a reflection of failure to find permanent solutions.

      “This makes it almost impossible for business to plan or expand, and this is damaging South Africa’s prospects as an investment destination,” Mukoki said.

      “It is difficult not to draw the conclusion that those given the responsibility, from Cabinet, the board and executive of Eskom are struggling to get on top of the situation.”

      BBC CEO Kganki Matabane, said they were really struggling to find the logic of why Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter was still there, as load shedding had become even worse after his three years at the utility’s helm.

      “Eskom needs a CEO who is able to change things, but three years have proven that the current one is not that type of a CEO. He’s a public relations person who goes around telling us that we are going to be on Stage 5 instead of actually doing the work,” Matabane said.

      “We are quickly becoming a failed state, and mainly because we are failing to take the right decisions. There is really no logic why the CEO of Eskom is still there.”

      BUSINESS REPORT

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