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De Lille briefs Scopa on billions owed to Eskom

Minister Patricia de Lille and officials from the department were at pains to explain to members of Scopa the ongoing problem and plan to resolve the matter of non-payment.

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Hon Patricia De Lille tabling her department budget vote in Parliament on 10 July 2019. Picture: @DepPublicWorks/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has given Parliament an update on the billions of rand owed to Eskom by departments and municipalities.

On Tuesday, Minister Patricia de Lille and officials from the department were at pains to explain to members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) the ongoing problem and plan to resolve the matter of non-payment.

Public Works is the one department tasked with settling debt owed by the state.

In December, Eskom briefed the same committee on the escalating municipal debt, which grows at about a billion rand a month.

The power utility said between March and September last year, the amount municipalities owed Eskom had risen by R6 billion.

The Department of Public Works was flagged as the biggest culprit owing over R3 billion.

But Minister De Lille has told Scopa the figures were unreliable because municipalities inflated the money they owe Eskom, which Public Works would have to pay on their behalf.

“R3 billion was proven to be unreliable and incorrect as displayed in the document. This is a serious offence that municipalities report inflated and wrong information.”

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa has called on the debt to be settled.

“What we want is that the debt must be paid. So, if the arrangement is as such, once it’s in effect, we will get the ones who must pay to come here and explain how they’re going to pay.”