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'Infrastructure roll out will be different'

Oct 19 2012 16:16

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Johannesburg - Government's new infrastructure rollout will be different, government ministers told a conference on Friday.

"It [infrastructure rollout] is economic, social and integrated infrastructure. It is about spatial transformation. Too much of our development has been plantation to port, mine to port," said Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin.

"You can’t have sustainable development and industrialisation without infrastructure that is of a different kind."

He told the Presidential Infrastructure Investment Conference in Sandton that government had adopted a radical and different approach to infrastructure rollout, in order for new development to reflect a new society.

Infrastructure programmes would be co-ordinated by the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC).

Cronin said such co-ordination would prevent the loss of jobs that was experienced just before the beginning of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Government would ensure there was social infrastructure, such as water, hospitals, schools, and housing, in order to prevent the kind of protests witnessed recently in the mining sector.

"It is also about urban transformation -- infrastructure that does not repeat the apartheid urban patterns, but begins to create non-racial work cities and green cities."

Government planned a R4 trillion infrastructure rollout over the next 15 years, Cronin said.

PICC secretariat chairman Ebrahim Patel said although no specific numbers had been finalised, each project would unlock hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Over the next three years, government would spent R844bn on infrastructure programmes.

Not all the funds would come from the fiscus; other funding would come from fees and charges levied by state-owned entities such as Eskom and Transnet.

Patel said the R4 trillion included African regional projects, but excluded the Grand Inga Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo "because of its price tag".

Within the same figure (R4 trillion) are private sector projects that are part of the strategic infrastructure projects, excluding those at concept stage.

Patel said the PICC had also developed a framework to deal with tender corruption. This would be made public once it was finalised.

Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said the infrastructure rollout would attract new investment.

"The economic infrastructure which we proposed is meant to trigger investment. It is an enabling infrastructure which is going to trigger further investments.

"For the first time, we are rolling out infrastructure over all the regions of the country... linked to specific economic potential which exists in those area[s]," he said.

Once this infrastructure was started, the private sector would put in their own investment.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said the new infrastructure rollout would not just build roads and railway lines, but improve the country's skills base.

This approach had already been adopted in the major state-owned enterprises.

"The skills development budget of Eskom has increased from about R800m to R1.4bn in this financial year. Transnet will be investing about R7.6bn in skill[s] development over the next seven year[s]," he said.

Delegates were expected to conduct closed sessions before President Jacob Zuma closed the conference later in the afternoon.

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