Burundi Power Company Vows to Get Tough on $32 Million of Debt

Burundi’s state-owned power and water company says it may take legal action to recover 50 billion francs ($32.1 million) owed by its customers, as the nation’s political crisis takes its toll on the economy.

The utility, known as Regideso, needs the money to support government works, manager Jeroboam Nzikobanyanka said Thursday in an interview in the capital, Bujumbura, where it’s based.

“We have tolerated this situation for many years, but now June 2016 is the deadline for every company or families who have unpaid bills,” he said.

The landlocked East African country, with gross domestic product of about $3.09 billion, has been rocked by violence that’s killed more than 470 people since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April 2015 to stand for re-election, a move his opponents said was unconstitutional.

Nkurunziza in early May gave a two-month deadline for the return of 111 billion francs he said had been stolen or embezzled from the government by companies and officials, including those given tax exemptions to import materials.

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