DPE reports on Eskom and it’s utilities to Parliament

Eskom issue raises capitalisation….

The department of public enterprises’s, Tshediso Matona, director general of DPE, clearly indicated that the apparently now solved labour deadlock at the Eskom Medupi power station was seriously occupying minds in DPE when public enterprises director generals were responding to Parliament on state-owned companies (SOCs) in the light of the state of nation address (SONA) recently delivered by President Zuma.

Indications were that the troubled Eskom construction site and the residue of issues arising was and probably still is of greater concern to DPE than issues at such as utilities as SABC and SAA, also reported on.

If the consumer doesn’t pay the lot……

On the recapitalization of SOCs generally, Matona said that if Eskom recapitalisation was not going to come from the tariffs, alternative capitalisation would have to be resorted to. This was also the problem with South African Airways and other SOCs. These companies needed sufficient capitalization to carry out their mandates and it was a matter that involved DPE greatly in their discussions with treasury.

Matona told parliamentarians that focus was being given to the challenges faced by Eskom at the Medupi power station, where work was at one stage completely stopped due to strikes. Mr Matona told the Committee that much had to be done to improve communication lines. Latest news was that Eskom had moved their financial director, Paul O’Flaherty on site.

Complexity of contracts

The minister of public enterprises was coming up with several initiatives to resolve the crises in the long term, said Matona, much of the problem being the complex nature of the projects and the fact that their complexity made them prone to delays.

Dialogue had therefore to be encouraged and he commented that “the minister was playing a major role.”

Main plan is NDP

On general issues, DPE said it was heavily focussed on “articulating the relationship between the National Development Plan (NDP) as instructed in SONA”.  Matona said this did not mean abandoning such other instruments as the New Growth Path and Industrial Policy Action Plan but that the NDP acted as a “vision” for the department and all plans and visions were being integrated.

Other issues discussed by Matona with parliamentarians dealt with the recapitalization of state-owned companies and the development of further broad based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) initiatives within DPE.

Land restitution

Matona said that there was a need for a complete change of approach with regards to land restitution. The overcoming of current administrative and bureaucratic blockages was a most important item. It was to be dealt with shortly. On the issue of the compliance to 30 day payment of creditors rule, Matona said that this had been particularly successful and DPE was proud of what they achieved.

On the issue of investment programmes, Matona said DPE was setting up a “project management office” in collaboration with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to monitor infrastructure projects. DPE was now to call a supply development summit in March 2013 at which Eskom and Transnet would present their plans in terms of supplier development with DBSA present.

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