The Gauteng provincial government (GPG) would spend about R40-billion in infrastructural projects over the next three years, in a move that could help to mitigate the impact of the global economic slowdown on the province, Gauteng Finance and Economic Development MEC Mandla Nkomfe said on Tuesday.

Announcing the GPG’s 2009/10 budget, he noted that these investments would include transport projects, construction projects and roads and related infrastructure for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“We are hoping that by rolling out this massive infrastructural programme, economic centres that are hidden, scattered, or badly utilised will be ignited and channelled towards the creation of new wealth that is required to achieve a high rate of economic growth and development,” said Nkomfe.

He added that this was Gauteng’s “economic fiscal stimulus package”, with the projects expected to have long-term benefits for the province’s economy and its people.

“To this end, government investment to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) will be stepped up in the coming years to provide both necessary skills and employment,” commented Nkomfe.

Further, the provincial government has also encouraged development finance institutions to explore “innovative” ways of financing strategic infrastructural projects, he stated.

The GPG would spend R55,3-billion in the 2009/10 financial year.

Over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF), the Gauteng Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works would spend R11,7-billion on infrastructural projects.

These would include the Gautrain rapid-rail project, which would receive funding of R6,3-billion, the implementation of the EPWP, road infrastructure and the Kopanong Precinct project.

The road infrastructural conditional grant had been allocated an additional R1,6-billion over the MTEF.

Other priorities for the province remained housing, health, education, social development, community safety and economic development, among other things.

Meanwhile, the GPG was also working with the manufacturing sectors to look at developing programmes to help these sectors curb potential job losses and to expand the sector’s capacity to create new jobs, said Nkomfe.