Thu, 24 Nov 2016 11:13:28 +0000
ZESCO owes the Energy Regulations Board (ERB) K48 million in license fees and is failing to settle the debt, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been informed.
ERB is also owed more than K18 million by oil marketing companies and other firms.
Appearing for interrogation before the PAC yesterday, Energy permanent secretary Emeldah Chola confirmed that initially ERB was owed K54, 078, 218 by ZESCO and other license holders.
Solwezi West UPND Member of Parliament Teddy Kasonso took Brigadier General Chola to task, demanding for an explanation as to why ZESCO had failed to settle the K48 million debt to ERB.
In her response, Brig Gen Chola said ZESCO had a lot of challenges in paying debt, adding that ZESCO was not only owing ERB but several other companies as well.
She said Government was currently looking at the problems at ZESCO and how best it could settle the ERB debt.
“Discussions during the meetings between the ZESCO and ERB boards are not yielding any tangible results; in the past they even drew up the payment plan which ZESCO has not honoured up to now,” she said.
She said she has written to other companies owed by ZESCO to prepare and present position paper regarding the matter to the Ministry of Finance so that a debt swap could be considered.
Brig Gen Chola assured the committee that the involvement of Ministry of Finance would resolve the matter as soon as it was tabled.
But Milengi Member of Parliament Mwansa Mbulakulima said the PS should not have appeared with officers from ERB because the institution was innocent.
He said ZESCO officials were the ones who should have accompanied the PS because it was ZESCO which was at fault.
Brig Gen Chola also told the committee that outstanding fees for water collection increased from K1, 919, 561 owed by various water right holders in 2014 to K3,553,332 as of August 2016.
She also informed the committee that collection of all water charges was not up to date, attributing the soaring debt to the non-payment of water charges by utility companies.