HARARE, June 5 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s Treasury has issued about $600 million worth of Treasury Bills to settle debts owed by parastatals and local authorities to the country’s power utility, a senior government official has said.
In January, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) reported that it was struggling to recover over $1 billion in unpaid electricity bills with government departments accounting for the majority of the debt.
“The bills that were owed by parastatals, local authorities and Sable Chemicals have been converted to Treasury Bills and we think that is a positive for the sector. Out of the $1 billion debt perhaps we are now sitting at $400 million,” Energy secretary Pattison Mbiriri told a parliamentary committee on Monday.
“We are relying solely on the central bank. We are not going to the market because we want to get real value for them….if we go to the market there will be all sorts of discounting and we will realize perhaps just 60 percent so we are leaning on the central bank to get the true value of the TBs.”
Mbiriri said the debt was slowly reducing on account of the prepaid system introduced in 2012.
About 600, 000 consumers have been migrated onto the prepaid metres system out of a target of 800, 000.
“Those that aren’t on prepaid meters are the huge consumers who should be put on smart meters. The bulk of the revenue for Zesa comes from the few large consumers of electricity who remain on postpaid,” Mbiriri added.
He added that the utility was in the process of procuring smart meters.