Ailing Post Office owes clients

If you were waiting for the Post Office to pay you, don’t hold your breath waiting for the cheque: there’s a bit of a cash problem.

On Monday Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele admitted to Parliament that the Post Office has thousands of unpaid suppliers and owed hundreds of millions of rand.

The mess is so frightening that even the ministry couldn’t get the numbers in line, giving conflicting information in a written reply to a DA question about delays in payments to the Post Office’s creditors and suppliers as at mid-May.

Long lists of unpaid creditors indicate that those who’ve been waiting for more than 120 days are together owed about R167 million, those waiting more than 60 days are owed R52m and those waiting more than 30 days are owed about R27m.

The reply includes another R55m; it’s not clear what this is, but it could be for the current payments (less than 30 days). The outstanding payments, owed for more than 30 days, come to about R245m.

The DA asked for an explanation for the delays.

“The company is having turnaround challenges (cash flow) it is trying to overcome with its turnaround strategy implementation,” the minister said tersely in the written reply.

Unpaid bills range from more than R27m to Telkom and about R25m to Avis Car Rental to R5.42 owed to the SA Red Cross Society.

Unpaid creditors include courier services, air-conditioning businesses, printers, plumbers, lawyers, IT businesses, hotels, panelbeaters and newspapers.

There’s no indication in the reply about whether the delay in payments had anything to do with the recent protracted postal strike.

Source: Louise Flanagan, The Star

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