Key projects to drive development
Following Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan’s presentation of the annual national Budget to Parliament in March, the parliamentary committees had hearings recently on the budget votes for their respective government departments.
Budget Votes are different parts of the national Budget relating to specific government departments. During the budget vote hearings, departments have to explain their budgets to the parliamentary committees and what they plan to achieve during the financial year. Committees can also check whether the departments kept the promises they made in the previous year and whether they spent the taxpayers’ money appropriately.
After all the Budget Votes had been debated, each House must vote on the whole Budget. If the Budget is approved, the ministers can go ahead and spend the money as budgeted.
Some highlights from the Budget Votes are discussed below.
Key infrastructure projects
While ministers outlined key infrastructure projects that their respective departments would undertake this year, President Jacob Zuma revealed in Parliament that government launched four key infrastructure projects since February this year.
For this financial year, Parliament has approved the building of new schools, roads, ports, power stations, dams, museums and social grant offices as part of a massive drive to create jobs and boost economic development.
The four key projects form part of a number of infrastructure projects which the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC) has in the pipeline.
■ The Integrated Municipal Infrastructure Projects, which aims to provide basic services to the country’s poorest 23 municipalities
■ The Northern Mineral Belt
■ The Saldanha-Northern Cape Development Corridor
■ The Integrated Urban Space and Public Transport Programme, which is directed at the major cities and which has so far been rolled out in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
President Zuma also revealed that a presidential infrastructure investor conference would be held before the end of the year.
The other key projects revealed by ministers in their respective budget votes, include Transnet’s R300 billion investment over seven years, in new ports and railway lines mainly aimed at increasing freight capacity and creating jobs.
The West Africa Cable System (Wacs) was launched last month and will, together with the refurbishment and addition of 13 125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable by 2020, boost the country’s broadband Internet capacity.
Eskom will also start building a 100-mega- watt wind farm at Sere, while a further 894 megawatt will be added next year when the first unit of Medupi comes on line.
Five key transport projects will also be un- dertaken in the next five years in the Durban- Johannesburg corridor.
These include the development of Cato Ridge as a dry port, the sale of the Durban International Airport to Transnet for setting up the city’s dug-out port, the extension of commuter rail to reach Pietermaritzburg, the development of Harrismith as a logistics hub and the setting up of several logistics hubs in Gauteng.
Major roads projects are also being undertaken by the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), while the department’s S’hambe Sonke Road maintenance project will invest R6,3 billion in the overhauling of roads throughout South Africa.
New passenger coaches will also be built, with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) having been allocated R5 billion for the acquisition of new rolling stock.
To boost support to the manufacturing sector the Department of Trade and Industry is looking to finalise legislation this year to help roll out special economic zones. This will enable government to effectively regulate all special economic zones, including the industrial development zones.
South Africa won the right to host more than two thirds of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project following the announcement of the bid in May. This will see new roads, buildings and power installed in the Northern Cape.
Government is also adding new dams and pipelines to bring more fresh water to communities.
The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa announced in her budget vote that about 550 000 people can expect to benefit from access to water, with the new projects.
In the last fi year, 173 625 people benefited from completed projects.
The new dams and water projects include the construction of the R2,1 billion Mokolo and Crocodile River (West) Water Augmentation in the Lephalale region, the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme to be completed by April next year and the De Hoop Dam in the Waterberg region expected to be completed in 2014.
The Nooitgedagt Scheme which will provide water from the Gariep Dam through the Orange-Fish-Sundays transfer scheme, is scheduled for completion by September.
In addition, the walls of the Hazelmere Dam, Clanwilliam Dam and Tzaneen Dam will be raised.
Molewa said one of the highlights for this financial year would be the completion of the Dwarsloop-Acornhoek pipeline for the provision of water to 265 000 people in the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality by December.
The department is also looking at rolling out hydro-electrical power projects in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The projects are a PICC initiative.
The Department of Basic Education is under- taking another PICC initiative – the building of new schools through its Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative.
The department is also seeking to provide basic water to 1 257 schools, basic sanitation to 868 schools and electrification of 878 schools and to do away with 496 inappropriate structures.
The Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said 50 struggling schools were being revamped with construction due to be completed by the end of this year.
Motshekga said in her budget vote speech that capacity challenges among the department’s implementing agents and contractors had resulted in delays, but that the department was tackling these.
She said the department would also provide Internet connectivity to 1 650 schools. In 2011, 2 334 schools were connected to the Internet for the purpose of teaching and learning, while 7 008 schools were using the Internet for administration purposes.
Rural police stations
Over the next three years, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will spend R3,2 billion on the construction of courts and other infrastructure projects to enhance access to justice.
Added to this, the police will accelerate the building of new police stations around rural areas and townships, while the Department of Correctional Services will this year start building six new prisons. A further 12 prisons are also in the pipeline.
The new prisons will help to provide for the extra bed space needed after the department last year cancelled two public-private partnerships to build prison facilities.
The six are two new facilities each in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape and one each in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The Minister of Correctional Services Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula who has since been appointed as Minister of Defence, stressed that the private sector is still welcome to build prisons, but that the state would retain custodial services.
In the course of this financial year the Department of Public Works will complete about 250 projects, to add to the completion recently of several large capital projects – including renovations to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, the Kimberly Correctional Centre, and the SA Police Forensic Laboratory in Parow, Cape Town.
The Department of Social Development will also revamp 400 pay points and 300 social grant offices over the next three years.
Arts and culture
Government will also roll out 28 heritage projects which will help spur local economic development, create jobs and contribute to nation building.
The projects include the refurbishment of homes and graves of struggle heroes as well as construction and expansion of museums to commemorate historic sites and events.