As many as 35,000 people in the sugar cane industry could lose their jobs if Eskom is granted a 16% electricity increase, the SA Cane Growers' Association warned the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) on Thursday (17 January).
The increase could result in the closure of four mills, the association's financial affairs director Thomas Funke said at public hearings in Durban on Eskom's proposed 16% tariff increase.
He said the sugar cane industry made R10bn a year and employed 350,000 people.
There would be a 19.4% loss of income in the industry if the increase was granted. It would also have a dramatic effect on food security.
"We believe the increase is not appropriate and not affordable. A double digit increase will have serious impact on net returns," Funke said.
He added that any increase which was higher than inflation was not possible for the association to digest.
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