Builders back Mboweni’s infrastructure spend pledge
13 March 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201913900
FINANCE Minister Tito Mbowen’s pledge during his budget speech to stimulate economic activity and growth through infrastructure spending received an enthusiastic response from construction professionals gathered in Durban recently for the KZN Construction Expo.
The budget speech highlighted that resources will be reprioritised away from the wage bill to bolster the president’s infrastructure fund earmarked for construction activities. The fund will be aimed at accelerating R526 billion worth of infrastructure projects through private-public-partnerships.
About 2 400 attendees in the construction sector, ranging from contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, property developers, government and industry associations attended the two-day expo at the Durban Exhibition Centre.
During the expo’s Stakeholder Engagement Forum, Department of Public Works Director of Communications, Kiru Naidoo, echoed government’s commitment to utilise infrastructure construction and development as the key driver to grow job opportunities and the country’s economy.
“The more infrastructure you build – whether these are roads, housing, schools, hospitals, or commercial centres – the more the economy is booming. Once you build something, you have a whole range of employment opportunities opening up in that area, which in turn sends long-lasting ripple effects through the community,” Naidoo said.
“This sends a strong message about government’s commitment to growth. Naidoo. “We need to invest in infrastructure to boost job creation and the economic outlook of the country and province.”
The province of KwaZulu-Natal alone is setting aside R200 billion in government expenditure for infrastructure development over the next seven years. Of this, R35 billion will be invested in the Point Waterfront development over the next 15 years.
Other projects such as the 1 300ha Cornubia mixed-use development is set to provide approximately 25 000 housing opportunities, including approximately 15 000 fully-subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG) units.
The latest Stats SA unemployment figures are further proof that construction feeds growth (or rather that the lack of investment in construction projects is detrimental to job creation). Stats from the last quarter of 2018 showed that the largest employment losses nationwide (compared to the third quarter of 2018) were observed in community and social services (51 000), transport (30 000), utilities (22 000) and construction where 21 000 workers in South Africa lost their jobs.
However, the KZN construction industry has seen an uptick in employment due to increased construction activity - 6 000 more people have been employed since last quarter (up 2,5%). Compared to last year, the numbers are even better, indicating that 24 300 more people in the province’s construction industry have been employed. That is up 48%.
Tracy-Lee Behr of expo organisers DMG events, said: “The expo, and especially its continuous-learning focus, is tremendously relevant to what the industry and the provincial government alike are trying to achieve – to grow opportunities in the industry and to equip the labour force for the growth that is already taking place in our industry.”