Opening remarks by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, at the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) Provincial and Local Government Conference, Ekurhuleni
13 Apr 2012
Premiers and MECs;
Mayors and councillors;
Senior Government officials from all spheres; and
Senior representatives of State Owned Enterprises:
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this first Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) Conference of the three spheres of government, to discuss a topic of critical importance to the nation, namely our Infrastructure Plan.
Almost 18 months ago, Cabinet adopted the New Growth Path as the framework to drive our jobs vision for the country, rebuild and strengthen the economy after the recession caused by the global economic crisis, and lay the platform for strong, sustained and inclusive economic growth.
The first jobs driver in the New Growth Path is infrastructure development. Indeed, at the heart of our efforts to ensure effective delivery is to improve both physical infrastructure and human resources.
But we recognised that the pace of infrastructure development was lagging behind what the nation needs. More needed to be done and it needed to be done faster.
Cabinet set up the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission - the PICC - to bring together representatives of the three spheres, with its membership comprising Cabinet members, Premiers, Metro mayors and South African Local Government Association (SALGA) representatives. The PICC is chaired by the President and in his absence, the Deputy President.
The PICC has smaller operational structures that ensure that the work is done for the full Council to consider.
Minister Gugile Nkwinti chairs the Management Committee of the PICC and Minister Ebrahim Patel chairs the Secretariat responsible for the day-to-day work of the PICC.
Colleagues would know that infrastructure drives growth and development. It lays the foundation on which the industrial activities of the nation take place. The experience of fast-growing economies is that their planning horizon is longer than one electoral cycle and that they invest heavily in infrastructure.
The PICC mandate is therefore to develop a twenty-year infrastructure pipeline, to ensure that we can plan ahead and move away from the stop-start syndrome around the building of infrastructure.
This will allow us to ensure better financial mobilisation, provide greater certainty to the construction industry, give educational institutions a framework around which to plan their skills development strategies, and to provide a roadmap for investors and communities.
The PICC completed a draft Infrastructure Plan which was discussed and refined at the Cabinet Lekgotla in January this year, in conjunction with Premiers and representatives of local government, through SALGA. The outcome of those discussions and the revised Infrastructure Plan formed the basis for the President’s announcement in the State of the Nation Address in February.
The Plan itself is comprehensive and detailed, and today Minister Patel will present a high-level summary of the considerable work that was undertaken by the PICC.
I wish to point to a few key goals we have set ourselves with this plan.
- First, we need infrastructure to unlock economic opportunities and expand investment and jobs in the economy. But we also need to address the spatial imbalances and apartheid patterns of development by ensuring that rural areas are brought into the economic mainstream and that balanced economic development takes place. We therefore also set a range of additional developmental goals that will influence what infrastructure we prioritise.
- Second, we see infrastructure programme as promoting broader industrialisation of the economy, through the use of locally-manufactured components and supplies. In this context too, infrastructure must drive skills formation, particularly in critical areas such as engineers, artisans, technicians and technologists.
- Third, the infrastructure plan needs to include a focus on maintenance, so that we do not only build new assets but also keep the state of the existing infrastructure base in good working order.
- Fourth, infrastructure must help us to integrate African economies so that we can create larger markets and promote deeper intra-regional trade and investment.
The PICC developed an Infrastructure Plan with 17 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), covering more than 150 specific infrastructure interventions. These cover all the key platforms: rail, road and port; dams, irrigation systems and sanitation; new energy generation plants, transmission lines and distribution of electricity to households; communication and broadband infrastructure; social infrastructure in the form of hospitals, schools and universities as well as regional infrastructure.
The test of our effectiveness will be how well we can coordinate and integrate our work and the different elements of the Infrastructure Plan. This means addressing capacity constraints in the state, promoting wider partnerships in the society and improving coordination.
We have drawn heavily on our experience in large infrastructure projects that were carried out in the past: with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Gautrain and the Gauteng Freeway build programmes, and the airport refurbishments as the reference points.
The lessons from these experiences have been distilled – both what worked well as well as what the experienced challenges were. One of the key lessons of the past infrastructure programmes is the importance of a strong partnership between the three spheres of government.
Provinces and local government matter greatly. These spheres are closely connected to service delivery to communities. They are the custodians of financial resources and regulatory responsibilities that need to be aligned with the overall national plan for it to be effective and capable of being carried out on an expeditious basis.
For this reason we drew heavily on all three spheres in the work of the Management Committee, where two Premiers and SALGA representatives ensured that the concerns and capacities of their respective spheres were taken account of as the Plan was conceptualised, drafted and refined.
This meeting today is an opportunity to share the work of the PICC with a wider layer of representatives from the provincial and local government spheres, to obtain feedback on our joint work and to identify the areas of responsibilities and the method of work. A number of Directors-General are present here, from both National and Provincial government. So too are many MECs, Mayors and Members of Mayoral Committees.
The Infrastructure Plan will be presented today on behalf of both the National Cabinet members, Premiers, Metro Mayors and SALGA, who approved the Plan at the PICC meeting in February this year.
This meeting is one of a number of engagements that will be held to deepen the cooperation and coordination across government. We will follow-up this Conference by hosting a series of inter-governmental fora at which each of the Strategic Integrated Projects will be unpacked in detail.
Indeed, this afternoon one such forum will convene at this venue to look at unlocking the northern mineral belt through transport, water and energy interventions that are centred on Limpopo and Mpumalanga with strong linkages with North West and multiplier effects in most of the other six provinces.
President Zuma will also convene a Conference with investors and social partners within the next few months to identify the opportunities with the Infrastructure Plan, mobilise financial resources and create the basis for private sector players to adjust their plans to take account of the infrastructure rollout.
Minister Gordhan has already begun the work on addressing the funding needs of the Infrastructure Plan, as announced during the budget speech in February this year and this will now be complemented with the additional resource mobilisation that will take place over the next 12 months. These include discussions with international partners to attract support for the Infrastructure Plan.
While we communicate the full plan we are also executing across the society. Implementation has already commenced on some of the components of the plan, in close consultation with the provinces concerned. This is in the form of site-clearing and construction work. Further technical studies to ensure specific projects are made implementation-ready and discussions with the private sector are taking place on what is required from them as key users of infrastructure.
Recently the President officially opened the Ngqura Port and pointed to the additional construction work now being done to develop it into one of the largest transhipment hubs on the continent.
Another example of a project that is now incorporated into the Infrastructure Plan, and which has officially been opened, is the Dube Trade Port, connected to the airport in Durban.
Over the next few months, many other projects will be launched and construction will commence as we get down to the hard but necessary work of implementing the Infrastructure Plan.
I look forward to a constructive engagement today with the three spheres of government.
Thank you for your attention and good luck for your deliberations throughout this session.
Issued by: The Presidency
13 Apr 2012
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