Eskom's R17bn emergency funding in spotlight as Parly considers appropriations bill

(File)
(File)

The National Assembly this week will consider the 2019 Appropriation Bill and the Special Eskom Appropriation Bill. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had tabled amendments to the appropriations bill in June, which included the authorisation of R17.65bn to Eskom.

Previously Fin24 reported that the finance minister in April authorised the R17.65bn to Eskom as the power utility was facing difficulty in servicing its debt. Mboweni had to evoke section 16 of the Public Management Finance Act (PFMA) – which deals with the use if funds in emergency situations.

Eskom had difficulty in meeting its obligations as there was a delay in a drawdown cash injection from the China Development Bank, the standing committee on appropriations heard at a briefing by Treasury officials earlier in July. The approval of R17.65bn is part of the R23bn Treasury allocated to the power utility in the 2019 national budget, the committee said.

On Friday the committee adopted its report on the appropriations bill, according to a statement from Parliament. "In processing the bill, the committee acknowledged the challenges facing Eskom and the importance of not allowing Eskom to fail, but registered its displeasure over the implementation of section 16 of the PFMA by the Minister of Finance," the statement read.

Not only does the bill propose appropriating money from the national revenue fund, but it also lays out conditions for spending of the funds.

The DA however has issued a statement raising concerns that the committee did not allow for adequate public participation. The committee in its statement has said the processing of the bill is shorter than usual. The bill lapsed after the last sitting of the National Assembly before the 2019 general elections and had to be revived by on June 27, 2019 by the sixth Parliament. The committee has said that it complied with regulations regarding the bill's processing.

Alongside proposals from various stakeholders the committee also had to consider technical amendments to Cabinet portfolios following President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to reorgnise and establish new departments. "These new votes only constitute technical corrections to the 2019 Appropriation Bill and do not alter the overall funding proposal made in the bill," the statement read.

The National Assembly's plenary on Tuesday is scheduled to consider and make decisions on the bill. If it is agreed to, it will be sent to the National Council of Provinces for consideration.

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