NEDLAC agrees on SA’s economic recovery plan – including funding for Eskom

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa

Social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) have agreed on an economic recovery action plan for South Africa.

This is according to a statement from the Presidency on Tuesday evening. President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired NEDLAC’s Forum for Economic Recovery, which brings together government, labour, business and community representatives, earlier in the day.

The plan will be finalised by the Cabinet and “is directed towards building confidence and placing South Africa on a path of investment and growth,” the Presidency said.

It added that the plan’s priority areas include “accelerated, inclusive and transformative growth,” structural reforms, and job creation.

Funding for Eskom

“Social partners have also agreed on a social compact which commits government, business, labour and community to mobilising funding to address Eskom’s financial crisis in a sustainable manner – in return for an efficient, productive and fit-for-purpose Eskom that generates electricity at affordable prices for communities and industries,” the Presidency added.

Eskom has a massive R488 billion debt and it is unclear at this stage how the partners will mobilise this funding.

In December 2019, labour federation COSATU tabled a proposal at NEDLAC for the Government Employees Pension Fund, through the Public Investments Corporation (PIC), to take over R250 billion of Eskom’s debt.

However, this proposal appears to have been shelved, according to a Bloomberg report published in August. Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) CEO Cas Coovadia was quoted saying at the time that there was “no firm undertaking” at NEDLAC to use pension funds.

COSATU’s parliamentary coordinator Mathew Parks added, “We just said all possible public and private financial support for Eskom and to reduce its debt must be mobilised. We kept it high level.”

Ramaphosa hailed Tuesday’s agreement as “a significant milestone in the history of our democracy and the advent of a new era of confidence.” He is set to announce details of the plan once Cabinet approves it.

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