CAPE TOWN, South Africa’s Public Works Department is set to finalise the Baseline Study on the Transformation of the Property Sector in order to realise the goals of radical economic transformation, says the Minister, Nathi Nhleko.

We will during this financial year move from planning to implementation by finalising the Baseline Study on the Transformation of the Property Sector; obtain approval on the Sector Codes from the Ministry of Trade and Industry; launch the Construction Sector Codes and Charter and integrate all initiatives aimed at transforming the procurement processes to be in line with the Charter, he said when tabling his department’s 2017 Policy Statement and Budget Vote in Parliament here Tuesday.

Nhleko said his department is on a drive to develop skills through the Skills Pipeline Strategy to support the roll-out of infrastructure delivery in the country and address the skills shortage in the construction sector. It has also implemented a programme to place interns for workplace training in partnership with universities of technology and the private sector.

Nhleko said while strides have been made in the redistribution of land over the past 23 years, there is a strong need to accelerate progress.

The distribution of agricultural land is still skewed and not representative of the demographics of the country. In South Africa today, only 7.4 per cent of agricultural land is in the hands of black people, while Africans only own 1.0 per centf agricultural land. As a democratic government, we recommit ourselves to develop a sustainable economy and State infrastructure that will progressively improve the quality of life of all South Africans, he said.

Nhleko also said that State infrastructure serves as an important socio-economic lever to drive capital formation, investment growth and social development. As a catalyst to development, the State’s immovable assets and lease portfolios continue to hold extensive benefits and opportunities in respect of the government’s broader developmental agenda and socio-economic transformation.

The department’s immovable asset portfolio consists of 30,097 land parcels, on which 95,164 improvements are located (buildings and structures) valued at 117 billion Rand (excluding completed projects and assets under construction), as at January 2017.

The total lease portfolio comprises 2 597 leases, with an annual projected expenditure of approximately 4.0 billion Rand.

We believe that unaccounted for properties could still be traced and brought back to where they belong: the State. We therefore call upon members of the public to volunteer any information they have on illegally occupied buildings, stolen and illegally transferred buildings as well as pieces of land. This will assist government towards updating our asset base, he said.