While Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) supports many of the provisions of Minister Tito Mboweni’s 2019 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement presented in his speech recently, the organization believes that Government needs to place increased focus on revising its procurement policies and improving the quality of spending, particularly on large infrastructure projects making sure that the citizens of South Africa get ‘Value for Money’ infrastructure that is safe and designed to stand the test of time.
Chris Campbell, CEO of CESA states, “CESA has been requesting the urgent revision of the Procurement Practices for Consulting Engineering Services for a considerable time. We welcome the focus on improving spending efficiency and reducing waste and eagerly await the review of the existing procurement regulatory framework, through the Public Procurement Bill.”
For a considerable time public-sector infrastructure projects have been plagued by poor planning and implementation. This is reflected in continued underspending, which reached 20 per cent of capital budgets in 2018/19. The Budget Facility for Infrastructure, a technical entity that reviews complex capital projects, has strengthened state capacity to consider and budget for large infrastructure projects and programmes. CESA is pleased to see that these interventions have begun to yield results, such as an improvement in the quality of budget bids and an associated reduction in rejection rates. The Consulting industry welcomes the 2019 MTBPS proposed allocation of R3.4-billion over the next three years for these projects, including student housing at three universities, school facilities and health infrastructure.
CESA is in support of Government’s continued work with the private sector to strengthen infrastructure investment with efforts focused on raising the efficiency of spending and crowding in private-sector investment. National Treasury’s review of public-private partnership regulation aimed at merging approval processes and reducing implementation timeframes is definitely a step in the right direction, says Campbell.
CESA continues to offer the services of its 560 member companies employing 21 000 people in partnering with Government to assist public entities, including municipalities, in unlocking their project pipeline. It concerns CESA to hear that large urban municipalities continue to underinvest in infrastructure, primarily because of poor programme and project preparation practices, leading to long delays, higher costs and breakdowns in service delivery. Campbell states, “CESA has the capacity to assist Government – let us help!”
CESA’s theme for 2019 includes Delivering Purpose and Engagement – Establishing Trust and there is a strong focus within CESA on working with and supporting Government, with increased collaboration with National Treasury on Procurement, the Auditor General’s office on compliance support, together with partnering agreements with Client Bodies allowing CESA to contribute positively in terms of support that includes capacity building, skills development, compliance and good governance.
CESA welcomes Government’s focus on boosting GDP growth over the medium and longer term in support of increased investment and job creation against the backdrop of a stagnant economy. Campbell states that policy certainty and a conducive business environment are critical to support business confidence.