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Sonangol reduces fuel to São Tomé and Príncipe for debts of 190 million dollars

Sonangol reduced fuel to São Tomé and Príncipe due to an accumulated debt of 190 million dollars and the archipelago has been facing a crisis in the supply of electricity and paralysis of public services for two weeks.

: Rupak De Chowdhuri
Rupak De Chowdhuri  

According to the Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Wuando Castro, the debt of the Sao Tome state to Sonangol "is currently at around US$32 million", which adds up to US$158 million more than the Water Company and Electricity (Emae) owes it to Empresa Nacional de Combustível e Óleo (Enco), in which Sonangol is the largest shareholder.

"Enco is currently in a complicated situation because Sonangol, since 2019/2020, has substantially reduced the supply it made to Enco on credit and a few times a year Enco has to buy fuel from a private supplier and pay in cash" , said Wuando Castro, in statements to Sao Tome television.

The Sao Tome government met on Tuesday with the board of directors of Enco and the management of Emae to analyze the situation, given the constant cuts in electricity that have been recorded in the country.

"We are here in a very complicated vicious cycle, in which Enco does not obtain liquidity because Emae owes Enco and because the State owes Enco, Emae also cannot pay its debt to Enco because it does not invoice what it owed in terms of updating prices and also because some state institutions do not have the capacity to pay the debts to Emae", explained the minister.

According to the official, "Emae has not been able to honor its commitments with Enco for more than 30 years", which is aggravated by the fact that the Sao Tome state subsidizes the cost of fuel by more than 50 percent, even after the increase in fuel prices internationally after the war in Ukraine.

"Our diesel that should be sold at the pump at 48 dobras is at 30 dobras, gasoline should be sold at 55 dobras is at 35 and oil at 35 is at 17 dobras [...] to maintain this price the State is accumulating debt to Enco", he said.

In view of the situation, the Government is considering new measures, based on the suggestions proposed by those responsible for Enco and Emae, but the minister did not rule out the increase in fuel prices.

"We will see all aspects in the next Council of Ministers, always trying, as we have done, to ensure that the measures we are taking have the least possible impact on the current cost of living, which we know is already very high due to all these problems [...]. The Government will have to find a mechanism to move forward, knowing that it is a structural problem", pointed out Wuando Castro.

However, for two weeks now, Emae has been rationalizing the supply of electricity throughout the country, with cuts at various hours of the day, causing constraints to the population and conditioning the functioning of most public administration services.

"The country is now in darkness [...] it means that it is one more field for us to have more thieves [thieves], more robberies", a Sao Tome citizen told Lusa.

A woman, who declined to be identified, while waiting for her turn in a long line at the registry and notary services, said: "It's terrible, when there is no energy, everything is stopped!".

"Without electricity, without Internet, we can't work [...] we have decentralized services, but we know that due to lack of electricity, people are unable to enter the posts in the districts", commented the director of Registries and Notaries, Ilma Salvaterra .

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