Government considers measures to help cushion the poor from rising energy costs
More information on the measures will be announced in the coming weeks
President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to help cushion indigent families from rising electricity costs.
Last week, the president made a call for the Eskom board to consider measures to help mitigate the impact of the 18.65% increase in tariffs, which was recently approved by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).
“There is little doubt that increasing the price of electricity now, at this challenging time, will add to the difficulties South Africans are facing,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the announcement of an increase in electricity tariffs comes at an extremely difficult time for citizens and businesses alike, who are already contending with the high costs of fuel, food and other essentials. He announced the following measures being considered by government to help indigent families mitigate the effects of rising electricity costs:
- helping households and small businesses install solar power and energy-saving devices;
- supporting households with rechargeable lights; and
- working with pupils to catch up where load-shedding interrupts lessons.
“We should be able to provide further information on these and other initiatives in the coming weeks,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the new tariff was approved byNersa following a prescribed process, which included wide-ranging public consultation. He said it is important that the state affirms the independence of Nersa and the importance of following due legal process in setting tariffs.
“Tariffs that reflect the cost of producing electricity are necessary for Eskom’s financial sustainability and for the utility to be able to service its debt and undertake the critical maintenance needed to end load-shedding.
“This is the problem we face: we have to ensure that Eskom has the resources it needs to resolve the electricity crisis while protecting South Africans from the effects of higher prices,” he said.
The global cost-of-living crisis has been described as a once-in-a-generation economic shock, and it is being worsened by global events beyond our controlPresident Cyril Ramaphosa
The president said rising food and energy prices are fuelling a cost-of-living crisis around the world, with the poor being hardest hit, saying that in SA, food prices have increased on average by 12% over the past year.
“We should be wary of short-term solutions we will regret in years to come. As government we will continue to implement policies and measures to mitigate the hardship being experienced by vulnerable citizens.”
Ramaphosa said the government, since the early days of democracy, had implemented a policy of free water and electricity for indigent households.
“The free basic electricity allowance, if implemented properly by municipalities, should shield the poorest households from the effect of the tariff increase. We remain absolutely committed to this policy.”
Ramaphosa called on all South Africans to pay for the electricity they use.
“As we work together to overcome the energy crisis, I call on all South Africans to pay for the electricity they use. We can only improve and expand the provision of electricity and other basic services if government and municipalities in particular have the means to do so. Nonpayment and illegal connections make electricity provision more expensive and less reliable.
“The global cost-of-living crisis has been described as a once-in-a-generation economic shock, and it is being worsened by global events beyond our control. As government we will continue with our efforts to expand the social wage, just as we accelerate our efforts to restore a reliable and secure electricity supply,” he said.
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