Ministers say Eskom price hike necessary

THE government is working on a plan to cushion the poor against Eskom's proposed 34percent electricity price increase.

"Eskom must be viable but at the same time we must make sure that our people can access electricity," Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said in Parliament yesterday.

With the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa set to announce its decision on Eskom's application for the major price hike tomorrow, Peters said this year's price increase could not be avoided.

Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan yesterday supported Peters' view, saying a less than 34percent increase would put Eskom in a difficult position in the future.

Peters said she would ensure that the sliding scale payment system was put in place countrywide.

The scale, already used by some municipalities, makes those who use more electricity pay more and is supposed to benefit the poor who use less electricity.

Peters said that from next year Eskom would have to come up with "multi-year price determinations" so that people knew how much their electricity would cost for three-to-five year periods.