Eskom is load shedding. Picture: 123RF/rasslava
Eskom is load shedding. Picture: 123RF/rasslava

Is it such a bad thing for the government to take R100bn of Eskom's debt in order to give it a chance to restructure its balance sheet and do business from a more viable base?

That debt is covered by government guarantees in any event, so the fact that it is on the government's balance sheet as debt, rather than contingency debt, should not make the move credit negative since the credit agencies hardly ignore guarantees to bankrupt state-owned enterprises (SOEs). 

Although it is still taboo to suggest it, the time will come when serious thought will go into mobilising a portion of the excessive funds under the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to clean up SOE balance sheets in advance of privatisation or realistic turnaround plans.  

What is done cannot be undone. The money has gone and regardless of which pocket it comes from, it will always be the taxpayers' pocket.  To pretend that Eskom and/or the other SOEs can trade their way out of debt or even pay the interest is a fiction. 

Sydney Kaye
Via email