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Drive to recover state property

Jun 01 2011 17:51 Sapa

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Cape Town - The public works department is to launch an amnesty campaign to reclaim "lost and/or missing" immovable state assets, Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde said on Wednesday.

Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote, she said the Government Immovable Asset Management Act compelled the department to facilitate the provision of accommodation and monitor the performance of the state's immovable assets and maximising its value.

The department also remained committed to providing lifecycle immovable asset management planning based on credible portfolio and property analyses, she said.

"In this regard, allow me to add emphasis to an increasing need to build sufficient capacity for the continuous management and enhancement of the immovable asset register.

"To this end, we will soon launch the amnesty campaign aptly named Operation Bring Back in order to encourage South Africans to reclaim lost and/or missing immovable assets.

"These properties we believe were insincerely wrested from the state in the turbulent transitional period following the demise of apartheid and were being unlawfully occupied," Mahlangu-Nkabinde said.

The significance of state-owned real estate as a major revenue generator for government could not be overemphasised.

Upon recovery, these properties would either enhance the disposal programme or contribute positively to the inner city regeneration programme.

The leasing portfolio was costing the state a lot of money. The department had in the past year spent billions on leases and functional accommodation for client departments.

Investment in repair and maintenance, continuous maintenance and construction of new government buildings could generate major savings for the state, "a process we will be embarking on in the (next) three years".

This would also include ensuring the relocation of national departments to state-owned buildings where it was feasible to do so.

"We acknowledge that our lease portfolio will take a while to reduce but in the interim, the department will continue to find ways to structure its current leases such that the socioeconomic goals of government are realised including black, women and youth economic empowerment.

"With regard to our own stock, we shall invoke the national infrastructure maintenance strategy and the national contractor development programme to target investment in this sector much to the benefit of our small and emerging contractors," she said.

Linked to leasing management was the rehabilitation of under-utilised and unutilised public buildings for alternative usage

With many tertiary students around the country being exposed to sub-standard accommodation, albeit at high cost, the department and higher education department decided to convert under-utilised buildings to provide affordable student accommodation where possible.

In Tshwane, the upgrading and refurbishment of the HG De Witt building would yield accommodation for about 180 students. In Bloemfontein, the upgrading and refurbishment of the Pelonomi Hospital would yield accommodation for about 700 students.

Through this intervention, the department was looking to alleviate the lack of decent student accommodation while also creating jobs, Mahlangu-Nkabinde said. 

public works  |  gwen mahlangu-nkabinde
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