Bhisho budget leans heavily towards infrastructure development, jobs

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JOBS, jobs, jobs.

Other than security and comfort, this was what the people of the Eastern Cape wanted most, Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo said yesterday.

Tabling the Provincial Budget 2015 in Bhisho yesterday, Somyo said unemployment levels in the Eastern Cape at 29% remained unacceptably high.

“Our agenda for economic growth and development is founded on infrastructure development and maintenance.”

At a press briefing prior to his budget speech, Somyo said jobs would be created with the government’s infrastructure programme in the province this year, to tackle youth unemployment.

This would also be achieved with the localisation of procurement services, with half of public sector procurement for the medium term expenditure framework to be from local companies.

Social infrastructure forms a big chunk of the R1.1-billion allocated to the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (Dedeat) this year.

While the department would allocate R82-million to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) to complete existing projects this year, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) would receive R185-million for social infrastructure projects in the province.

Somyo said the two IDZs in East London and Port Elizabeth were critical industrial centres for investment and export-orientated growth in the province, with Coega in particular used as an implementing agent of the Departments of Health and Education’s infrastructure projects.

Asked what the proposed business model review for the IDZ mooted in his speech would entail, Somyo said the EL IDZ had experienced financial challenges and therefore the government would bring in a rescue plan to boost it.

While Coega’s business model would for now remain the same, Somyo said both IDZs would be encouraged to drive industrialisation in the province.

The CDC is owned by the Department of Trade and Industry and ECDC, while the East London IDZ is co-owned by Buffalo City Municipality and Dedeat. Coega would be funded via the ECDC while the EL-IDZ was directly funded by Treasury as a provincial public entity.

CDC spokesman Ayanda Vilakazi said Coega was involved as the implementing agent with the eradication of the bucket system, road paving and waste treatment projects in Nelson Mandela Bay. The CDC was also involved with implementing a taxi and bus terminus in GraaffReinet, and disaster relief at schools in Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo municipalities.

Vilakazi said the CDC was appointed as implementing agent because of their experience in project management and the successful delivery of projects.

-Cindy Preller

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