The management and administration of the projects envisioned in the Infrastructure Development Bill (“the Bill”) is overseen by various committees at different levels of authority. As mentioned in the last article, the Bill brings together the three spheres of government and other stakeholders in various sub-committees, in order to fast-track strategic infrastructure projects and to avoid the projects being delayed by red tape. It acts somewhat retrospectively to empower committees which are already in existence, and which are currently overseeing the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (“SIPs”) which were set out in our previous article. This article will examine the composition and powers of these committees.
The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission
“The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) will address the pace of infrastructure development in South Africa and develop a 20-year infrastructure pipeline of projects to ensure that South Africa could plan ahead and move away from the "stop-start syndrome" around the building of infrastructure.” Kgalema Motlanthe
Who forms PICC
The PICC was established by Cabinet and comprises various sub-committees, namely the Management Committee, a Secretariat and Steering Committees for each SIP.
The members of the PICC are:
- The President;
- The Deputy President;
- Ministers designated by the President;
- Premiers of the Provinces; and
- the chairperson of the South African Local Government Association recognised in terms of the Organised Local Government Act 52 of 1997, as the national organisation representing municipalities.
Functions of the PICC
The PICC has been mandated ensure systematic selection, planning and monitoring of large projects and, as mentioned in the quote above, develop a 20 year infrastructure pipeline. The PICC’s most important functions are to:
- determine and develop infrastructure priorities, more specifically 5 year priorities;
- designate strategic integrated projects;
- identify strategic international partners with which to conclude agreements and in turn scale up investment in infrastructure;
- consider proposals for infrastructure development and maintenance;
- call for proposals for the implementation of strategic integrated projects;
- promote creation of decent employment opportunities, skills development and support African development and integration; and
- address capacity constraints and improve coordination and integration within strategic integrated projects.
It is axiomatic that the PICC performs a vital role in the implementation of the Bill and what it hopes to achieve. The test of the PICC’s effectiveness will be the finalisation and realisation of the National Infrastructure Plan and its goals of creating significant numbers of new jobs and delivering basic services. However, its success depends on its sub-committees achieving their goals.
The Management Committee is appointed by the President, and consists of members of the PICC, the Cabinet, Provincial Executive Council or a Municipal Council, or such Deputy Ministers as are determined in consultation with relevant Premiers. This committee is currently chaired by Minister Gugile Nkwinti.
Its role is to ensure that the PICC’s objectives under the Bill are achieved. Some of its duties include:
- ensuring that the PICC’s decisions are carried out;
- monitoring and evaluating infrastructure development in South Africa generally, and the SIPs specifically; and
- reviewing and making recommendations to the PICC to ensure the harmonisation and improvement of policies and laws relating to infrastructure development and investment in infrastructure.
Perhaps its most important role is to ensure the coordination of regulatory approvals. This role is aimed at ensuring high-level cooperation and cohesive political will across all three spheres of government to push through infrastructure development projects. This role is vital in ensuring that the various authorities’ regulatory procedures do not hamper the implementation of projects and that the timeframes contained in the Bill are met. These timeframes will be discussed further in our next article.
Where these deadlines are not met, the Steering Committee, and ultimately the Management Committee, can intervene and expedite the process. In this regard, Minister Ebrahim Patel has stated that “...[t]he commission is a single forum that binds all three spheres. So we now have a committee that includes everyone who has anything to do with infrastructure. It is a mechanism that can bind everyone to a decision.”
The secretariat, chaired by Minister Patel, is responsible for the day-to-day work of the PICC. In addition to Minister Patel, the members will comprise such other Ministers and Deputy Ministers as the President may determine.
Included in the Secretariat’s functions are the appointment, oversight and interaction with the steering committees, and the coordination of the implementation of SIPs. This body must also report regularly to the Management Committee and the PICC regarding its management duties.
A Steering Committee is set up for each SIP, and members are nominated by the Minister under whose portfolio the SIP falls. Each Steering Committee must include the Director-General in the relevant Minister’s department, and representatives of the departments and organs of state affected by the project.
Members of the Steering Committees must have the relevant knowledge and delegated power to take decisions on behalf the organ of state which they represent. A channel of communication with the head of the represented organ of state must also be available to the members, thus further speeding up implementation.
Such Steering Committees are apparently already in existence and are overseeing the SIPs which were discussed in the last article, as the Bill makes provision for their continued existence once it comes into force.
Likelihood of success
It is clear that every effort has been made to create committees which incorporate all the relevant government officials and stakeholders, and which are empowered (either themselves or through their members) to push infrastructure projects forward.
Provisions to combat possible corruption are also included in the Bill, and there is a clear intention to maintain procedural fairness and administrative justice standards notwithstanding the streamlined approach to project planning, approval and implementation.
The Bill contains several aspects which still need clarity, and which we hope will become apparent as it progresses through Parliament. Some of these aspects include the frequency and quorum of meetings to be held by the various sub-committees and the PICC itself, and the effect of decisions by the various officials sitting on them.
However, it is clear that this Bill heralds a new approach by government, who has recognised that a firm commitment is needed by all spheres of government to push infrastructure projects towards completion, decrease the red tape which routinely holds up these projects and stifles the economic growth of South Africa.