CAPE TOWN – Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has sent a blunt message to struggling state-owned enterprises, telling them there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Delivering his Budget in Parliament on Wednesday, Mboweni said Eskom will get R69 billion over the next three years to help it service its crippling debt.
But this lifeline will be ring-fenced by strict conditions.
* Tito Mboweni’s 2019 Budget speech
The conditions include the appointment of a chief reconfiguration officer who will be Treasury’s “ears and eyes” at Eskom and every other SOE that gets financial support.
“We can’t just be providing cash to state-owned enterprises and stand back and hope things are going to work. Basically, we’re going to put them under curatorship.”
Briefing ahead of his speech, Mboweni said the job of the chief reconfiguration officer would be to work with the board and top management to guard every cent handed over.
“This is taxpayers’ money. We must look after it. There’s no free lunch here.”
Mboweni says Eskom’s unbundling is not privatization. He said if the Public Investment Corporation were to take on some of the parastatal’s debt in return for equity, it would still belong to the state.