Premier outlines priorities for Limpopo
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Johannesburg - Slightly more than R3 billion has been set aside to tar Limpopo’s gravel roads in the next three years.
This was revealed by Premier Stan Mathabatha on Tuesday when he delivered the State of the Province Address in the provincial legislature in Lebowakgomo, outside Polokwane.
“These projects will include the so-called Bermuda roads that were started in the past and were not concluded due to budgetary constraints,” said Mathabatha, adding that the projects would cover 344km of road.
The speech was marked by achievements, many of them during the 17 months he had been premier.
Citing Statistics SA’s labour force survey, he said Limpopo had created 29 000 new permanent jobs in the last quarter.
He said the government had re-opened the Madzivhandila and Tompi Seleka agricultural colleges at the beginning of this year.
The province, Mathabatha said, had bought 50 new ambulances last year and planned to buy 50 more in the next financial year, starting in April.
“We have also spent no less than R145 million to purchase and repair critical equipment for hospitals.” The province had sent 110 students to study medicine in Cuba last year, compared to 10 sent each year before that.
The premier also highlighted failures. Despite the huge service delivery backlog and poor roads, most municipalities had failed to spend large portions of infrastructure grants earmarked for such projects.
“By December, we had only managed to spend a mere 26.2 percent of the allocated MIG (municipal infrastructure grant) budget. This is obviously unacceptable.”
The province recently lost about R500m that had been earmarked to build low-cost houses. The money was given to other provinces because of Limpopo’s poor planning.
“This was due to the introduction of a procurement pilot project that the Section 100 administrators wanted to implement in Limpopo, a decision which has since been reconsidered.”
Limpopo was run by the national administration team from December 2011 until this year.
Mathabatha said the Human Settlements Department had agreed to redirect the money back to the province, and 10 500 housing units would be built in the next financial year.
He said the Limpopo Development Plan had been concluded.
The provincial blueprint was aligned to the National Development Plan and identified mining, agriculture and tourism as catalysts for economic transformation.
“Our fundamental goal is to ensure an industrialisation programme through mineral beneficiation, development of agro processing and logistics.”
The Limpopo Development Plan aims to achieve the following by 2020:
* Grow the economy by 3 percent (last year, the premier promised 5 percent growth in the next five years).
* Create 429 000 jobs.
* Increase access to basic water and electricity from 83 percent to 90 percent, and increase access to sanitation from 43 percent to 50 percent.
* Ensure the province increased its contribution to the country’s GDP from 7.15 percent to 9 percent.
* Reduce the unemployment rate from 16.9 to 14 percent.
The premier said he would appoint a new MEC in May to replace Thembi Nwedamwutsu, who died last month.