Tag Archive | minister ebrahim patel

Infrastructure Development Bill to cut red tape

Land expropriation tool….

BS000318Armed with a new tool, the Infrastructure Development Bill, government is hoping to speed up infrastructure projects by cutting red tape; shorten approval times; hit the corruption chain; force quicker decision making; and change the system by which expropriation of land takes place observing correct ground rules.

The new Bill with all of these objectives in mind has been tabled by economic development minister, Ebrahim Patel, and will grant statutory powers to a special Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Commission to address project management and regulatory delays challenges; coordinate the issuing of permits and licences; deal with resolution of land servitudes; bring the three tiers of government into better working relationships; improving co-ordination between public entities and improving cooperative governance in an overall sense.

Cracking down on corruption

The Bill was described by President Zuma in his state of the nation address.   He said, “We are cracking down on corruption, tender fraud and price fixing in the infrastructure programme. The state has collected a substantial dossier of information on improper conduct by large construction companies. This is now the subject of formal processes of the competition commission and other law enforcement authorities.”

Minister Patel’s statement, when tabling the Bill, said that “focused project management systems and clear performance dashboards” were being built up so that projects in hand could be monitored. Opportunities for the private sector were now being investigated and a conference would be held by government to bring about such a processes with business and industry.

Constitutional process

On the issue of expropriation of land, the Bill states it is being careful to follow constitutionally accepted procedures but Minister Patel said that bearing in mind expropriation can only occur for a public process, in order to speed matters up the process will be taken as a “given” and where such an action is involved, this will be handled on a “post development basis”, the state taking the risk of losses or losing cases.

The actual workings of the Bill envisage a statutory process led by a steering committee that can override and intervene in statutory matter affecting development, the principle being to cut down on time lag and legal obstacles.

No frills

The Bill is relatively telegraphic in its preamble and simply states the Bill is intended to “provide for the facilitation and co-ordination of infrastructure development which is of significant economic or social importance to the Republic; to ensure that infrastructure development in the Republic is given priority in planning, approval and implementation; and to ensure that development goals of the State are promoted through infrastructure development.

The Bill immediately gets down to the business of forming the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Commission and the first issue to be dealt with under “objectives” is the question of the acquisition of land, making it relatively transparent where infrastructure development delays might have been occurring.

Top team

The makeup of the commission also leaves little doubt on the intent that the Commission has to exercise its powers, its body made up of the President, the Deputy President; ministers designated by the President; the premiers of the provinces and the
chairperson of SALGA.

The President, or in his or her absence the Deputy President, is the chairperson of the Commission and a decision by the majority of the members present at a meeting of the Commission is a decision of the Commission.

The Bill will enable the Commission to tie in various government department to binding decisions. One has to assume that by giving such powers to the commission over the department of public enterprises, all state utilities therefore be subject to common actions.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Enviro,Water, Health, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

China gets into the act with Economic Planning

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said, during his department’s Budget vote speech in Parliament, that the China Development Bank and the IDC had signed an agreement to access US100 million for small business lending based on a 10-year tenure.

The recently formed Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) is also to received R2bn to be made available over the next three years to “strengthen its direct lending capability, increase the disbursement to small business and work to lower the costs of bureaucracy and overheads”, minister Patel said.

He was giving details on how his department would divide up its R672m budget on funding exercises, much of which will go to small business development and towards the competition authorities – minister Patel stating that R169m would go to Sefa for the current year and R173m to the competition board.

Funds for Sefa would be made available from both “fiscal transfers” and a direct R921m loan from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Patel said.  IDC is to separately issue a R4bn “jobs bond” with the purpose in mind of promoting lending that had strong emphasis on job creation.

Sefa, which was formally launched this month, was the result of the old Khula Finance fund run by the department of trade and industry (DTI) consolidated with the DTI’s Apex fund for small business microfinance and the IDC small business “lending book”.

The agreement with the China Development Bank would allow the IDC to access about R800-million from China for small business lending at favourable terms.

Minister Patel said in his address to parliamentarians, “By reducing the number of agencies, we estimate annual savings in excess of R20-million through cutting duplication of costs and services. That money can flow into more lending to small businesses, rather than the bureaucracy. The idea of all such funds under one umbrella organisation was mooted a number of years ago by DTI in proposals before Parliament.

Sefa, which would be an entity of the IIDC, would offer loans initially of up to R3-million to small businesses.

Minister Patel said of the department’s R673m budget allocated for the 2012/13 financial year, R60m was for administration and capex, R29m for economic policy development, R42m economic planning and coordination, and R18m for economic development and dialogue.

The remainder of the budget was the amount going to Sefa for small business funding, the competition authorities with R173m, the International Trade Administration for South Africa which would get R74m and IDC, again, for their agro-processing fund which would receive R108m.

Posted in BEE, Cabinet,Presidential, Finance, economic, Land,Agriculture, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Uncategorized0 Comments

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