DA welcomes Gauteng commitment to involve private sector

Mike Moriarty MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance

At a public meeting of the Finance Portfolio Committee of Gauteng to discuss the provincial treasury’s annual report, MEC Barbara Creecy responded positively to my criticism of her department’s handling of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

PPPs are a highly effective way of rolling out masses of public infrastructure.

Experience in the United Kingdom shows that over a thousand projects to construct roads, schools, hospitals and the like can be successfully rolled out in under a decade.

The burden of raising finance and the carrying of risk is minimised, projects are constructed more cost-effectively, and lots of jobs are created in the process.

Until now, the province has had a non-committal attitude to the approach. Their involvement has been limited to drawing up feasibility studies and handing them over to others. And then the projects stall.

Examples of projects that have failed to make progress are:

  • A Waste-to-energy project in Johannesburg;
  • The Sedibeng Regional Wastewater Treatment Scheme; and
  • Rebuilding of Chris Hani-Baragwanath and George Mukhari hospitals.

I pointed out that in Britain there is a government agency called Partnership UK. This agency takes responsibility for all infrastructure projects in terms of a “cradle-to-the-grave” approach. They run the projects right from conceptualisation through to construction, operation and asset transfer stage.

There is simply no stalling of projects in this approach. Gauteng should follow the same approach.

In response MEC Creecy agreed that Gauteng needs to look at involving the private sector more and that there does indeed need to be a “cradle-to-the grave” approach to managing infrastructure projects from a finance point of view.

She indicated that her government is now exploring better means of managing “off-balance sheet” projects that emerge within the province. She said she would engage the Finance Portfolio Committee in this regard.

The DA welcomes this response.