Cape Town — The Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan outlined a range of measures to boost the planning and monitoring capacity in departments and municipalities to ensure they carried out infrastructure projects and allocated the necessary spending on these projects wisely.
With the government currently looking at rolling out 43 major infrastructure projects worth R3.2 trillion in spending, effective implementation would remain key.
But, Gordhan said only about 68% of the R178 billion made available to departments and municipalities in the 2010/11 financial year to spend on infrastructure, was spent.
He said departments and municipalities that do not spend, underspend or mis-spend their allocated infrastructure funds would risk losing their allocations, while officials would also be held liable for such misdemeanours.
The National Treasury would be monitoring the spending of grants to ensure there was value for money and that departments and municipalities stuck to Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) targets and implemented operational and maintenance programmes.
The measures he outlined to improve the implementation of infrastructure projects include:
* Boosting planning and project-management capacity in state-owned entities, development finance institutions and in the private sector.
* Assistance from the Infrastructure Development Improvement Programme to assist provincial and national departments - largely in education and health projects and support for provincial public-works departments.
* The Cities Support Programme which would improve spatial planning, public transport and management of infrastructure utilities in cities - initially targeting the country's eight metropolitan areas.
* The launch this year of the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency by Minister of Co-operative Governance Richard Baloyi to assist rural municipalities that lack planning capacity.
* Technical assistance to municipalities through the neighbourhood development programme, which is aimed at helping townships to source business investment. Currently 220 projects are being supported.
* The extension of the infrastructure skills development grant to a further 43 municipalities. The grant this financial year supported 150 graduate interns in engineering and spatial planning.
* Improving procurement processes for major infrastructure projects to develop local suppliers and improve delivery and value for money.
At a media briefing ahead of Gordhan's Budget Speech, the National Treasury's Director General, Lungisa Fuzile, attributed the under-spending problems to a lack of specified skills at certain municipalities and departments which contributed to poor planning and monitoring.
He said the National Treasury's measures would help to boost capacity and improve spending.