Gauteng to upgrade infrastructure

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Provincial Government will be using more than R36 billion in the next three years to fund several infrastructure projects that officials hope will lead to massive job creation in the province.

Tabling his provincial budget in the Gauteng Legislature on Tuesday, Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe said infrastructure investment in South Africa's economic hub remained critical to the government job creation drive, with road maintenance and transport expected to create over 175 000 job opportunities.

The Department of Housing and Local Government will receive more than R3 billion in the coming financial year to deal with the thorny issue of housing backlogs and accelerate service delivery projects across the province. 

Close to R4 billion will go to the Transport Department to proceed with the Gautrain project and the improvement of the rail network system, while another significant slice of the R67.9 billion budget will be allocated to the provincial Department of Health to accelerate the building of new hospitals and revamping of the existing ones. 

This includes the upgrading works and new construction of the oncology units at Tshwane and Steve Biko Academic Hospitals in Pretoria and hospital upgrades in Sebokeng, Sterkfontein and Johannesburg, among others. 

"Even though we expect the private sector to be an engine of growth, the public sector must provide critical goods such as infrastructure, which cannot be adequately provided by the private market and without which the private sector cannot survive," Nkomfe said during the address which was also broadcast live at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus

He said while the province's own revenue of just over R3 billion constituted the smallest portion of the total budget, it remained "significant." 

"Over the coming financial year, the department will be working tirelessly to optimize this revenue source. Currently, the department is undertaking a study to ascertain the feasibility of reviewing some of our taxes in line with the legislative framework," Nkomfe said. 

Although the allocation by the national government to Gauteng is estimated to about R65 billion, the province made little money to boost its overall budget, with just R557 million gained from gambling and betting taxes, while R431 million was derived from patient fees in hospitals. 

On Tuesday, Nkomfe said specific focus will be placed on strategic infrastructure investments aimed at boosting job creation, while making it easier for investors to work in the province. 

He announced an allocation of R66 million to support labour absorptive sectors, while R61 million has been set aside to support local entrepreneurs. He said the money sought to ensure that business benefitted from government procurement in areas where they are located. 

"This (money) will be utilized to assist associations, producers and cooperatives of farming communities," Nkomfe said. - BuaNews