South African Government, Business and Labor Endorse Eskom Pact

South African labor unions, business groups and the government endorsed a pact to find ways of reducing the debt of the stricken national power utility.

The so-called Eskom Social Compact was signed at a meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council in Johannesburg on Tuesday, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said in an emailed statement.

The agreement on Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. was first proposed by Cosatu, South Africa’s biggest labor group, late last year.

It proposed using funds from entities including the state-owned Public Investment Corp. and Development Bank of Southern Africa to cut Eskom’s debt to about 200 billion rand ($13.3 billion). The utility has a debt burden of about 480 billion rand and relies on regular government bailouts to keep operating.

“We appreciate that the power utility is the lifeblood of the economy,” Cosatu said on Tuesday. “The economy needs reliable and affordable energy for it to recover.”

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