Tinashe Makichi Business Reporter
Government will release Treasury Bills (TBs) worth about $600 million to clear debts owed to Zesa Holdings by local authorities and State enterprises . Zesa Holdings through its subsidiary, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company has been battling to recover over $1 billion in unpaid power bills.The release of more TBs comes amid concern that Government continues to add to its stock of debt which could have far-reaching implications to the economy. To date, over $4 billion TBs have been issued for various reasons.
Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Partson Mbiriri told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy yesterday that an agreement had been reached with Treasury which will see it settling debts owed to the state power utility.
“The bills that were owed by parastatals, local authorities and Sable Chemicals have been converted to Treasury Bills and we think that is a positive for the sector.
“We recently held a meeting with the treasury and an agreement was reached. It is our belief that this agreement is a welcome development as we seek to ensure the smooth operation of the utility,” said Mr Mbiriri.
Last year Zesa approached the High Court suing at least 200 local authorities, State enterprises and private companies. On the list of debtors were at least 40 State and local authorities.
“We are not taking the TBs to market but we are going to rely solely on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe because once we put them on the market, we are bound to see more discounts being asked for,” said Mr Mbiriri.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge told the same Committee that Government is also making frantic efforts to repay the Eskom debt.
This comes after there were reports that the country owes regional utilities about $77 million. The power utility relies on imports to augment supplies due to low generation capacity.
Dr Undenge assured the nation that load shedding is a thing of the past and efforts are underway to make sure there is consistent supply of electricity. “Zesa has been working tirelessly towards repaying the debt. I want to assure the nation that there won’t be any load shedding.
“The country has experienced little load shedding in the past 18-20 months and I want to make sure the situation remains like that going forward,” said Dr Undenge.