’Inaction on infrastructure crippling the economy’

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THE government needed to speed up the implementation of infrastructure targets, or inaction would knock the struggling economy, Malusi Mthuli, the president of the South African Institute of Valuers (SAIV), said yesterday.

Mthuli said: “When infrastructure projects are lacking, the property valuation profession suffers, as well as the wider South African community. Professional valuation skills are scarce as it is. This small talent pool becomes ever smaller, as experienced valuers choose to leave the country due to lack of local infrastructure development.”

In June last year, the government announced the roll-out of an extensive infrastructure investment drive that would cover 55 projects across six sectors. The programme was an attempt to kick-start an economy battered by Covid-19.

Earlier this year, Business Leadership SA launched a report drawn up by Intellidex to support the government’s efforts to drive infrastructure investment. The business body said that although business, the government and social partners had agreed that greater investment was important, the reality was that over the past five years investment volumes had been falling further from the National Development Plan’s target of 30 percent of gross domestic product annually.

South Africa’s 123 provincial government departments recorded a decrease in infrastructure spending of R1.88 billion in 2018/19. This represented a fall of 5.4 percent compared with 2017/18.

The SAIV said when projects were put on hold, valuers sought opportunities in countries where projects were more likely to progress. This was a problem, Mthuli said, because when projects were finally back on track in South Africa, the country would be without the technical skills to move forward with these projects.

“As it stands today, there is a worrying trend in the property development space, where the government is passing on infrastructure costs to developers,” Mthuli said.

“It has become the case that if you want to build a new housing estate, for example, it is up to the developers to bear the cost of upgrading the surrounding roads, water, sewage systems, etc. This shouldn’t be the case. People pay rates and taxes, which should be used, yet the reality is that the municipalities are gaining a double benefit at the cost of the developer, who ultimately passes those costs down to the end user – the South African people. This results in inflated property prices,” he said.

The SAIV called on the South African Council for the Property Valuers Profession to accredit and develop more academic programmes in order to encourage people to join the profession.

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