Friday, December 4, 2020

Power tariffs to go up

Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila, disclosed that his ministry had undertaken to review electricity tariffs to make them ‘cost reflective’.

According to the minister, part of the problem why Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has run out of money is that the billing system does not reflect the electricity cost. He said that the current tariff system is characterized by the average cost price being higher than average selling price.

The minister said this while tabling his ministry’s budget before parliament.

“…there is the need for timely and regular review of electricity tariffs. This notwithstanding, the Government will always put measures in place to assure that social equity and justice prevail, especially for the low income households,” said Mokaila.

He told parliament that ‘the prevailing power supply and demand mismatch in the country will continue to affect the economy until the 600 mw Morupule B power station had been fully completed’.
The minister wants parliament to approve P600 million to fund the remainder of the project as well as assist in the refurbishment of Morupule A power station.

Initially, the project was scheduled for completion by December 2012. The ministry, however, hopes that it should be running before end of 2013.

“….In order to reduce the impact of the power supply and demand mismatch, the Botswana Power Corporation has renewed the agreement with Eskom to supply 100MW on a firm basis and 200MW on a non-firm basis. Power is also provided by the Orapa 90MW power station and 70MW emergency power station in Matshelagabedi, albeit at high cost as these use diesel fuel,” he said.

Mokaila has requested a recurrent budget of about 400 million and a development budget of close to P3 billion.

Meanwhile, Parliamentarians are worried about Botswana’s power shortage and the overall management of the Botswana Power Corporation.

Commenting on the budget request, MPs have called for a selective load shedding and the management of BPC.

“Load shedding should not affect hospitals and clinics,” said the Assistant minister of Health, Utlwang Matlhabaphiri.

He argued that a blanket load shedding exercise by BPC on Hospitals and Clinics endangers patients’ lives.

Also registering his dissatisfaction on the power crisis was the MP for Tati West, Guma Moyo. He said that there is a general poor supervision of government projects, citing the Morupule Power B plant.

“I find it very difficult to comprehend that towards the end of project we begin to identify the problem,” said Moyo.

“We have to seriously look at the management of BPC,” he added.

Moyo also called on government to focus on projects that have an impact on economic diversification.
He said government alone cannot handle the challenge of diversifying the economy. He said instead, government should consider inviting banks and other entities in the private sector to partner in some of the projects.

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