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ESCOM TO EMBARK ON A DRIVE TO RECOVER BILLS OWED BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES WORTH K65 BILLION

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has embarked on a drive to recover K65 Billion in unpaid postpaid electricity bills owed by Government agencies, private sector players and individuals.

According to the press statement released last Thursday, the power utility vowed to disconnect supply to the concerned customers, including government ministries, departments and agencies to get its money.

The power supply warned the customers, government ministries and departments on the mass disconnection exercise. They indicated that once the bills are settled with a re-connection fee, the supply would be restored within 48 hours.

ESCOM Chief Executive Officer, Kamkwamba Kumwenda said MDAs owe the company hugely.

“In terms of bills, MDAs owe us about 50 billion while for private entities, the figure is about 15 billion” he said

Secretary to the treasury Betchani Tchereni, in a separate interview said, it was surprising that MDAs owe Escom that huge amount of money as his office provides resources to them to cover obligations such as utility bills.

“we simply give the MDAs their allocation and they decide themselves whether the money should go toward phone bills, water bills or electricity. It is their responsibility”. He said.

Parliament committee on natural resources chairperson Welani Chilenga, whose committee has been engaging the ministry of finance and economic affairs on the matter, blamed ESCOM for poor timing.

“They should have waited for the budget to pass there could be allocations from the ministry of finance to off- set those bills. They should wait until funding for April”.

While not specifically mentioning if the budget has some allocation, Chilenga said that they have been in talks with treasury and during the committee of supply stage, they will engage the minister of finance on the allocation.

“We have different MDAs that owe Escom and its huge sum of money. It includes state residences, Malawi Defence Force and Malawi Police Services. It is some huge money and the treasury will do something” he said.

Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito differed with Chilenga, saying Escom’s action was long overdue, he said MDAs should stop blaming treasury over funding issues as they allegedly choose not to pay utility bills because they find utility providers easy to deal with.

“They must be able to collect money from everybody and every institution that owes them outside the agreed terms” he said.

Kapito said, Escom cannot be run like a charitable organisation, the parastatal needs to start biting to keep up with the high cost of buying electricity and transmission from producers.

Past experience has shown that whenever Escom and Water boards disconnect supply to some MDAs Treasury intervenes by requesting the service provider to restore supply.

Source:NPL

 

 

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