Posts Tagged ‘Parliament’

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Energy news – budget vote season at Parliament

10 June 2008

The past four weeks have seen Parliament debating the budget votes of the national departments – an annual ritual and a busy time of year for the National Assembly – and Friday was the turn of Minerals and Energy .

Unsurprisingly, DA minerals and energy spokesperson Hendrik Schmidt put the energy crisis front-and-centre in his speech in the debate, saying that the department had been affected by some of the worst crises since 1994.

“It was Cabinet who took the decision not to allow Eskom to expand its generation capacity in order to lure private investment,” said Schmidt. “It was Eskom who warned government that South Africa would run out of power in 2007/8 followed by a failure by Cabinet to heed this advice. It was government who failed to restructure the electricity regulatory environment to attract private business – which was expected to invest billions of rand over a return of a period of 30-40 years. It is shortsightedness, lack of political leadership and vision as well as a failure by this government to give practical effect to the reality of the decision to attract private investment that has lead to the current crisis.”

He reiterated the DA’s call for an independent inquiry into Eskom’s management, and for the restructuring of the electricity sector to encourage private sector investment – a view echoed by a top business group this week.

Eskom was also a key focus of DA spokesperson on public enterprises Manie van Dyk’s speech in that department’s budget vote debate in May. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Parliamentary question on Eskom Bonuses

3 April 2008

A couple of weeks ago, we highlighted the issue of Eskom senior staff being paid huge bonuses despite the energy crisis the country was facing. The DA submitted a parliamentary question about the performance contracts, and the question and answer are appended below.

Unfortunately, the minister has taken a very narrow interpretation of the question and hidden behind the confidentiality of performance contracts. He refuses to give any information at all about the kinds of things that are considered in evaluating performance (appropriate long-term planning and ensuring a reliable and suitable quality coal supply would be two key performance areas, one would think).

Mr C M Lowe (DA) to ask the Minister for Public Enterprises:

(1) With regard to Eskom’s past three annual reports in which it was revealed that its top management was paid a total of R143 million, including R57 million in bonuses, what are the relevant details regarding how agreement on these bonuses were reached;

(2) whether these bonuses were tied to any performance targets; if not, why not; if so, what targets?

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Parliamentary question on Eskom’s demand for diesel

28 March 2008

One of the concerns about the energy crisis and Eskom’s inability to meet demand was that it might have a knock-on effect on fuel supplies, notably diesel. Here is the DA’s question to the Minister of Public Enterprises about Eskom’s management of its demand for diesel and his reply:

Dr S M van Dyk (DA) to ask the Minister for Public Enterprises:

(1) Whether Eskom’s demand for diesel for diesel-propelled power generators has increased since January 2007; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, to what extent has it increased;

(2) whether Eskom consults with the SA Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia), the Fuel Retailers Association and PetroSA to ensure that sufficient diesel is available for all sectors of the economy; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(3) whether Eskom, as one of the biggest consumers of diesel, expects that more diesel will be required in the following three to four months and notified the suppliers in advance of this increased demand so that more diesel can be imported; if not, why not; if so, (a) what are the relevant details and (b) what is the indication of diesel requirements for the rest of the year;

(4) whether Eskom foresees that the agricultural industry will have to curtail its demand for diesel in any way in order to accommodate Eskom’s requirements; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;

(5) whether the pipelines from harbours will be able to cope with t he increased demand for imported diesel (oil); if not, what measures have been introduced to ensure that Eskom can deliver sufficient diesel to its plants. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Government had plenty of warning on Electricity Capacity

4 February 2008

You’ve probably read about the Energy White Paper published in 1998 that predicted that demand for electricity would exceed Eskom’s generated supply in 2006/7 if measures were not taken to increase capacity (e.g. here, here, here and here).

But the warnings didn’t stop there. Besides raising this issue repeatedly in the National Assembly’s Minerals & Energy Portfolio Committee in Parliament between 1999 and 2004, the Democratic Alliance, for one, also highlighted it during the plenary debates on the Minerals & Energy Budget Vote in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

The DA has justifiably grilled the government for ignoring these warnings in the last couple of weeks, and called for ministers and officials to be held accountable for their poor planning. But we’ve also proposed some immediate and medium-term solutions that go beyond the government’s own rescue plan to restore reliable electricity capacity.

There’s definitely a lack of faith in Eskom’s – and, by extention, the government’s – ability to rectify the problem. They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them to address the crisis, as well as public perceptions of their handling of the situation.