The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) called yesterday for a comprehensive national infrastructure maintenance strategy that would create jobs and alleviate poverty.

In its submission on the division of revenue for 2010/11, released in Parliament yesterday, the advisory body recommended that the government implement a comprehensive national infrastructure maintenance strategy with dedicated maintenance objectives. This was particularly important for those infrastructure classes with a high impact on unemployment and poverty.

For sustainable outcomes, the government should improve infrastructure investment management by building in or safeguarding adequate life-cycle replacement and maintenance provisions, the FFC said.

The government should develop appropriate funding mechanisms through intergovernmental co-ordination to integrate and sequence infrastructure planning and delivery, it added.

Such planning should support stronger municipal management, especially for capital spending and maintenance programmes, and resolve lingering policy uncertainty.

A case in point was the introduction of regional electricity distributors, which had stalled and was therefore undermining municipal investment in infrastructure and maintenance.

The FFC called for increases in departmental baselines and the amount of appropriate investment in public infrastructure at all three tiers of government.

Modelling done by the commission, as well as international experience, had shown that investment in appropriate infrastructure led to reduced unemployment and poverty.

The FFC recommended that increased funding be directed towards infrastructure programmes that were linked to basic services, including water, electricity, health, transport and communication.

“For funds already in the system, the commission recommends that the government should improve… targeted outcomes of infrastructure investment towards employment creation and poverty reduction,” it said.

“Leveraging from efficiency gains… should be made an ongoing exercise, as it strengthens the link between planning and spending.”

PUBLICATION: Business Report
DATED: 29th May 2009