South Africa Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers the 2019 Budget in Parliament on Wednesday. PHOTO: GCIS

PARLIAMENT – Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday mooted the prospect of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) converting some of Eskom's debt into equity.

Shortly before tabling his 2019 budget, Mboweni told media it was possible to find an equity partner for the new transmission arm of the power utility without resorting to privatising.

"The PIC is a big lender to Eskom," he said, adding that it could choose to convert that debt to an equity stake. It would leave Eskom fully in state hands.

Deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele said that this could place about R10 billion back onto Eskom's balance sheet.

The announcement that Eskom would be split into three separate units has drawn a threat from the National Union of Mineworkers to withhold support for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in May elections.

Mboweni, who announced R23 billion in additional funding for Eskom annually for the next three years, took the opportunity to say he viewed those opposed to privatisation in general as hopeless nostalgists.

"Many of us still think we are in the Soviet Union … it collapsed a number of years ago and we need to move with the times."

He said if it were up to him, he would see to it that parastatals that served no purpose to the economy and drained the state's coffers were shut down, but acknowledged that in government, various sectors had to be consulted.

African News Agency (ANA)