Eskom application against Nersa is not urgent, court rules
JOHANNESBURG – Eskom has expressed disappointment that its application for urgent relief in a case it brought against the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) after its 2019/2022 tariff decision was rejected in court.
The proposal for the government to dip into public servants’ pensions for a bailout to halve Eskom’s R454 billion debt also hit a brick wall on Monday.
The Gauteng North High Court on Monday ruled that Eskom’s application for a R69bn tariff increase in the matter it brought against Nersa was not urgent.
Eskom wanted the court to review and set aside Nersa’s decision on its multi-year price determination of R23bn each for three years. The power utility argued that Nersa incorrectly treated the R69bn of government bailouts as revenue when calculating the amount of revenue it should be allowed to recoup via electricity tariffs.
But the court decided that the matter was not urgent, although the merits of the R69bn would still be heard as Part B of the review process.
“At the root of the matter is the fact that we do not agree with Nersa’s deduction of the R23bn that we received from the shareholder, treating it as revenue,” Calib Cassim, Eskom’s chief financial officer said in a statement.
“We will await the next phase of the court case in order to finalise the recovery of the equity provided by the government that we believe was incorrectly deducted.”
Nersa’s spokesperson Charles Hlebela said the regulator would issue a statement after reading the judgment.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) has rejected the proposal to use R254bn of public servants’ pension money warehoused in the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to bail out Eskom.
Fedusa said that it was fully supportive of the bona fide intentions and proposals made by various constituencies to save Eskom. “However, these proposals cannot be advanced at the expense of workers,” it said.
Senior economist at global bank BNP Paribas South Africa Jeff Schultz said yesterday that Eskom’s debt would still be the responsibility of the government whether or not it was housed in the PIC.
“Even if you are implementing big losses by taking significant portions of Eskom’s debt on to the PIC’s books, ultimately, that liability is going to rest with the state,” Schultz said. “And so, we’re calling it a contingent liability by stealth; we’re just moving the contingent liability around.”
Fund manager at Anchor Capital Stephan Engelbrecht said Cosatu’s proposal did not make mathematical sense. “It is not well founded, given that if you do a bit of maths, basically what it comes down to is that they want to save 16 000 jobs and they are willing to spend R254bn,” Engelbrecht said.