National 30.8.2016 12:55 pm

Brown wants to ‘put to bed’ Eskom-Treasury stalemate

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown.
Photo: Beeld / Lisa Hnatowicz / Gallo Images

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown. Photo: Beeld / Lisa Hnatowicz / Gallo Images

The public enterprises minister has promised to act on any wrongdoing when National Treasury concludes its investigation.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has instructed Eskom’s executive to hand over to National Treasury the report on the department’s investigation into the state-owned company’s multimillion-rand coal deal with Gupta-controlled Tegeta Exploration & Resources.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702, Brown said the 172-page document in question must be submitted by close of business on Tuesday without Eskom’s board approval, as previously required by National Treasury in its April request for comment.

“I’ve asked Eskom today to release the 172-page document to Treasury – whether or not as required by Treasury, it has gone to the board or not – so that we can put this matter to bed,” she said.

On Monday, Treasury issued a statement refuting claims by Eskom that it had been fully cooperating with its probe – instituted in July 2015 – into the R400-million a year coal contract with Tegeta.

“The National Treasury would like to categorically state that its efforts have met resistance. Since April‚ the National Treasury has made several attempts to get information from Eskom‚” Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile said.

He said his department had also sent a letter to Eskom requesting it to withdraws claims that “all the Tegeta coal contracts with Eskom have been extensively audited by various agencies‚ including National Treasury”.

Weekend media reports suggested that the electricity producer wasn’t even using the ‘substandard’ coal, and advance payments were allegedly made to the Gupta company.

The minister has asked for proof of the allegations made, and told the radio station she had received assurances from Eskom that the Gupta deal was above board like any other coal mine deal the utility has entered into with other companies.

Brown said: “If there is any wrongdoing in the 172-page document or Treasury’s investigation, I will act on it,” while insisting that her role was that of shareholder and did not include operational actions as specified in the Companies Act.

She also said she would like to meet with Treasury to resolve the matter that has played out in the media and expressed her concern that the standoff could lead to a possible credit rating downgrade for Eskom.

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