The National Treasury would be adding some R17-billion to the budgets of departments of housing, provincial and local government, water affairs, sports and recreation and transport over the next three years, mainly for infrastructure, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said on Wednesday.

Manuel commented that recent years had seen an “increasingly robust growth” in government spending on infrastructure.

He mentioned that investments in various public transport systems were starting to become visible.

“Investments in public transport, which are made in partnership with our cities, are already beginning to reshape our urban landscape,” he said.

Manuel said in his Budget speech that the public transport infrastructure grant included R11-billion for these programmes over next three years.

Transport infrastructure

The National Budget has allocated some R6-billion for public transport, roads and rail infrastructure over the next three years. This included allocations to South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC), the taxi recapitalisation and public transport for municipalities.

The Budget Review explained that the consolidation of consumer and long-distance passenger rail would be supported through an injection of R2,4-billion – R1,3-billion of which has been assigned to the incorporation of the Shosholoza Meyl into the SARCC. The SARCC would also receive an additional R1-billion for the upgrading of its 1 400 coaches.

Investment in road maintenance would continue to be supported through an R800-million allocation to Sanral. The taxi recap would be boosted by R478-million over the period.

Over the period ahead, Transnet would invest R78-billion in infrastructure, about 48% of which would be spent on improving freight rail infrastructure and rolling stock. Other projects included expanding the coal line and the iron-ore line, capacity expansion at the Durban harbour, a new container terminal at Coega, the Cape Town container terminal expansion, and the purchase of new equipment to cope with the increased volumes.

Investments also included the construction of a R11,5-billion liquid fuels pipeline between Durban and Gauteng.

Housing and the built environment

This year the Budget has given an additional R6-billion for housing, water and sanitation, and built environment infrastructure. Additional funding of R2,2-billion has also been assigned for the upgrade of informal settlements and to “shield the housing programme from rising input costs”, the Budget Review explained, adding that some 762 000 units were to be upgraded over the next three years.

A key focus for the government is the elimination of informal housing and the development of sustainable settlements. Over the medium term a total of R35,8-billion has been designated to cater for housing needs.

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has been allocated R200-million in 2010/11 for project support to poor municipalities for the implementation of water and sanitation infrastructure projects.

Telecoms and communication

The Budget allocated an extra R300-million to the Department of Communication to fund information and communication technology infrastructure (ICT) at the stadiums in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. ICT parastatal Sentech would also receive an additional R257-million for the digitisation of television broadcasting in preparation for the event.

Further to government’s 2006/7 allocation of R600-million to Infraco, an additional R700-million has been recommended over the next three years for the company to invest in backbone infrastructure that would contribute to reduce the cost of broadband internet.

The medium-term expenditure framework operates as a rolling three-year budget framework that is revised each year. This year’s Budget allocated R33,2-billion for provincial equitable share and R6,5-billion for the local government equitable share.