PARLIAMENT - MPs on Wednesday resolved to summon the inter-ministerial task team looking into municipalities which owe the state-owned power utility, Eskom, close to R14 billion in debt to Parliament.

At a meeting of Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), Eskom board chairman Jabu Mabuza told MPs the amount the electricity utility was owed went from R9.5 billion last year to R13.8 at the end of last month.

In a statement, Scopa said it was not happy with the responses received from Eskom, the South  African Local Government Association, the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, and National Treasury on how they were working together to solve the debt problem, which could affect Eskom's standing with lenders.

"Scopa hopes that a meeting with the inter-ministerial task team will provide resolutions, particularly as some municipalities who are able to pay are reluctant to do so," the statement said.

"Scopa has also resolved to call the top 10 defaulting municipalities to understand why they are not paying their debt."

Scopa named the top ten defaulting muncipalities as:

-- Maluti A Phofung in the Free State, owing R2.8bn;

--Matjhabeng in the Free State, owing R1.8bn.;

--eMalahleni in Mpumalanga, owing R1.6bn;

--Ngwathe in the Free State, owing R936m;

--Emfuleni in Gauteng, owing R606m;

--Govan Mbeki in Mpumalanga, owing R517m;

--Lekwa in Mpumalanga, owing R491m;

--Thaba Chweu in Mpumalanga, owing R431m;

-- Ditsobotla in North West, owing R293m; and

-- Naledi in North West, owing R280m.

In the past, Eskom entered into payment agreements with municipalities to prevent electricity cuts. However, Eskom reported the municipalities often renege on these agreements.

African News Agency/ANA