In commenting on the Budget Speech presented by finance minister Enoch Godongwana, Chris Campbell, CEO of Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) stated, “Implementation, implementation, implementation – it is one thing to allocate funds for infrastructure spend but it helps no-one if it is not implemented to its fullest in the most value-for-money driven manner!”
CESA agrees with the Minister’s statement that “Infrastructure investments lay the foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth; address supply-side constraints; and expand access to basic services.” The plan for the public sector projections to spend R903-billion on infrastructure over the medium-term is welcomed, with the largest portion of this, around R448-billion, to be spent by state-owned companies, public entities and through public-private partnerships.
While the Minister stated that the focus is not only on building new infrastructure, but also on maintaining existing infrastructure averring that while we do this, we need to ensure that it lasts long and performs to the required standard.
Campbell cautions, “In doing maintenance it is critical that during this rehabilitation process that it is carried out properly to ensure that the asset lifespan is effectively prolonged and that is not just a short-term fix.”
In reference to crime and corruption the Minister stated that as we undertake infrastructure projects, we need to crack down on criminality in the construction sector, going on to say that the extortion and intimidation of lawfully appointed contractors and the workers they employ cannot be tolerated. In addition, that R14-billion has been allocated over the medium term to fight crime and corruption.
Commenting on this Campbell cautioned, “The construction mafia is a serious threat to the development of the infrastructure that our country sorely needs for economic growth and development. We need to focus on redeveloping our capacity for crime intelligence and not simply be hiring just anyone off the street.”
On the subject of the funds being allocated to state-owned entities, Campbell is pleased that these allocations will be accompanied by strict conditions to ensure sustainability, accountability and transparency.
As the Minister stated in his conclusion, “Our economy is facing significant risks. Uncertainty is on the rise. It requires us to do bold things.” Campbell once again reiterated, “Without proper implementation and oversight that is driven by a value-for money ethos, none of these bold plans will come to fruition.”