Public Works aims to transform property sector

32089843724_41ec47126d_mThe Department of Public Works is set to finalise the Baseline Study on the Transformation of the Property Sector in order to realise the goals of radical economic transformation.

“We will during this financial year move from planning to implementation by finalising the Baseline Study on the Transformation of the Property Sector; obtain approval on the Sector Codes from the Ministry of Trade and Industry; launch the Construction Sector Codes and Charter and integrate all initiatives aimed at transforming the procurement processes to be in line with the Charter,” said Public Works Minister Nathi Nhleko.

The Minister on Tuesday tabled his department’s 2017 Policy Statement and Budget Vote Speech in the Old Assembly Chamber in Parliament.

Public Works has been allocated a budget of R7 billion for the 2017/18 financial year and R22.5 billion in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period.

An amount of R6 billion is earmarked for transfers and subsidies in the current financial year, while the remaining R1 billion will be used for the compensation of employees and goods and services.

Skills development in the built industry

Minister Nhleko said his department is on a drive to develop skills through the Skills Pipeline Strategy to support the rollout of infrastructure delivery in the country and address the skills shortage in the built environment.

The department has also implemented a programme to place interns for workplace training in partnership with Universities of Technology and the private sector.

Minister Nhleko said professional councils and entities have been established, adding that they have also passed the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) Act, Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Amendment Act and other pieces of legislation over the years to professionalise the construction and built environment sector.

“Key to this is the need for us to deal with the challenges that we still need to overcome in the governance framework. To this end, the Council for the Built Environment will be hosting a Transformation Indaba on 29 August 2017 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Gauteng,” he said.

According to Minister Nhleko, the Independent Development Trust (IDT) is undergoing financial, operational and structural challenges to optimise its performance.

He said an interim solution is being sought, with the help of National Treasury, to sustain the entity in the short to medium term, while stakeholders are working on long term sustainability measures going forward.

Redistribution of land

Minister Nhleko said while strides have been made in the redistribution of land over the past 23 years, there is a strong need to accelerate progress.

The Expropriation Bill is yet to be finalised.

“The distribution of agricultural land is still skewed and not representative of the demographics of the country. In South Africa today, only 7.4% of agricultural land is in the hands of black people, while Africans only own 1% of agricultural land.

“As a democratic government, we recommit ourselves to develop a sustainable economy and State infrastructure that will progressively improve the quality of life of all South Africans,” Minister Nhleko said.

State infrastructure

Minister Nhleko said State infrastructure serves as an important socio-economic lever to drive capital formation, investment growth and social development.

As a catalyst to development, the State’s immovable assets and lease portfolios continue to hold extensive benefits and opportunities in respect of government’s broader developmental agenda and socio-economic transformation.

The department’s immovable asset portfolio is constituted of 30 097 land parcels, on which 95 164 improvements are located (buildings and structures) valued at R117 billion (excluding completed projects and assets under construction), as at January 2017.

The total lease portfolio comprises 2 597 leases, with an annual projected expenditure of approximately R4 billion.

“We believe that unaccounted for properties could still be traced and brought back to where they belong: the State. We therefore call upon members of the public to volunteer any information they have on illegally occupied buildings, stolen and illegally transferred buildings as well as pieces of land. This will assist government towards updating our asset base,” he said.

Turnaround Programme

Public Works has implemented a turnaround programme since 2012 to address the governance and operational challenges of the department.

The programme, Minister Nhleko said, has started to yield results, with the department’s audit outcomes and governance having recorded an improvement.

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