SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's finance minister said Monday the government will improve the financial status of debt-laden public energy companies by raising rates to an acceptable level next year.
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho made the remarks at a meeting of the National Assembly's Strategy and Finance Committee.
"It will take time for public energy companies to retrieve accounts receivable and make a turnaround. Experts expect Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) to swing to an operating profit in the third quarter (of 2023) and post an operating profit for the whole of 2024," he said.
Last week, the government said it will raise electricity rates and gas prices by 5.3 percent for the second quarter starting May 16 to reflect rising global energy costs.
In 2022, KEPCO's debt reached 192.8 trillion won (US$146 billion), jumping by 47 trillion won from a year earlier, while Korea Gas Corp.'s debt rose 17.5 trillion won to 52 trillion won during the same period.
KEPCO's net losses widened to 24.42 trillion won last year from 5.22 trillion won a year earlier due to increased electricity purchasing costs.
Its operating losses also deepened to 32.6 trillion won from 5.85 trillion won, while sales rose 18 percent to 71.27 trillion won from 60.67 trillion won.
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