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Jakarta Post

Still waiting: Cash-strapped PLN yet to receive $3b from government

  • Norman Harsono
    Norman Harsono

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 18, 2020   /   11:52 am
Still waiting: Cash-strapped PLN yet to receive $3b from government PLN president director Zulkifli Zaini speaks to House of Representatives (DPR) Commission VII lawmakers overseeing energy in Jakarta on Wednesday. (PLN/PLN)

State-owned electricity company PLN says it has yet to receive compensation worth billions of dollars from the government for offering power to customers below market prices.

PLN president director Zulkifli Zaini said on Wednesday that the utility company was still waiting for the government to disburse the funds, which amounted to Rp 45 trillion (US$3.17 billion).

Read also: PLN books $2.8b loss in Q1 amid weakening rupiah

“They said it would be paid out this year,” the former banker told lawmakers during a House of Representatives (DPR) hearing in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The government owes Indonesia’s sole electricity distribution company for electricity subsidies incurred over the past two years. PLN is due to receive Rp 23 trillion for subsidies in 2018 and Rp 15 trillion for 2019.

Disbursing the compensation funds is particularly urgent for cash-strapped PLN as the company faces cash flow risks in the second quarter, due to a bill payment relaxation scheme introduced following a recent fiasco.

Around 4.6 million residential customers of PLN reported a spike in their power bills in June amid the implementation of the government’s working-from-home policy introduced to contain the coronavirus spread.

PLN also faces cash flow problems due to low electricity price ceilings and high power plant investment. Furthermore, the company is giving discounts to 31 million of Indonesia’s poorest homes as part of its COVID-19 relief efforts.

Read also: Consumers lament PLN electricity bill spike

The State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ministry previously announced billions of dollars in compensation for big SOEs, including Rp 48.46 trillion for PLN. Other state companies, such as national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and steelmaker Krakatau Steel, will receive working capital guarantees.

“The government has liabilities to SOEs that amount to Rp 108.48 trillion,” said ministry spokesman Arya Sinulingga on June 5.

PLN booked a net loss Rp 38.9 trillion in this year’s first quarter, down from a net profit of Rp 4.12 trillion in the same period last year, after the rupiah exchange rate fell to a record low against the greenback in March.