[itweb] The Gauteng provincial government will invest in ICT infrastructure and deploy broadband in a bid to bring down the cost of participating in the formal economy.
However, finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe did not indicate how much the provincial government would invest in ICT and broadband, nor the scope of these projects, during his budget speech this morning.
Addressing the Gauteng legislature, Nkomfe said: “Specific focus will be put on strategic infrastructure investment aimed at lowering the cost of economic participation by focusing on strategic economic infrastructure.”
Among Nkomfe's infrastructure priorities are rail, roads, freight, transport and ICT, including the rollout of broadband. “This is in order to address our socioeconomic infrastructure investments as a strategy of stimulating economic growth and job opportunities,” says Nkomfe.
Over the next three years, the province will invest R36.1 billion to implement its infrastructure investment programme. Of this amount, R17 billion will be used to build new infrastructure, and R4.3 billion will be spent on maintenance. The balance of the allocation will be used to refurbish and upgrade infrastructure, says Nkomfe.
Despite the e-tolling situation and the billing crisis at the City of Johannesburg making it into Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane's state of the province address last month, these issues were ignored in the budget.
The Democratic Alliance's finance spokesman Mike Moriarty says the opposition party is “disappointed that the MEC had nothing to say about the billing crisis in local government; after all, the province has an oversight role in this regard”.
Moriarty adds the party “would also have welcomed an unequivocal statement that the province would not be seeking additional income out of the exorbitant toll fess, but this was not forthcoming”.
The toll fees were initially set at 66c a kilometre, but national government has agreed to revisit this figure after a national outcry. The new fees will be published before the tolls around Gauteng's freeways come into operation in June.
Gauteng expects to earn R67.9 billion in the new financial year, which will increase to R78 billion by the end of 2013/14.
Gauteng to invest in broadband