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Property industry vital to jump start the economy

Deon van Zyl, chairperson of the Western Cape Property Development Forum says it’s time to get on board or get out of the way. Picture - supplied

Deon van Zyl, chairperson of the Western Cape Property Development Forum says it’s time to get on board or get out of the way. Picture - supplied

Published May 26, 2022

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The Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF) has called on the government and industry to knock down barriers that hamper growth for the sector.

The forum, which lobbies the government on legislation and policies that impact the industry, is holding a two-day conference in Cape Town to look into how the sector can thrive in the aftermath the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

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"It's time to get on board, or get out of the way. The time for lip service is over, as it is for those who create obstacles. Fixed capital investment can no longer wait for permission,“ said WCPDF Chairperson, Deon van Zyl.

Van Zyl said for far too long the property and construction industry sat on the "side-lines" and accepted the impacts caused by others.

"While it is time to build the entire country out of the crisis, it is time for our industry to move from a survival mind-set to a thriving mind-set. But to get to a point of thriving, we need to address the issue of growth," he said.

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The industry, which relied on contracts mainly from the government to improve or build infrastructure, was hit a blow when R17 billion worth of tenders were cancelled by SANRAL this week.

Van Zyl said this would also have an impact on job creation.

He said other challenges included underspending of public capital budgets, or officials returning money to the National Treasury without thinking about the practical implications.

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"Then there are those public and private institutions that, while sitting on billions if not trillions, refuse to invest in the country, even though their own existing fixed-capital assets and interests require a stable economic environment," he added.

He called on those in the private sector to think about the implications of continuing to work from home as such decisions had a knock-on-effect on small support businesses which were forced to close their doors.

"Our immediate crisis is the lack of growth and the lack of future vision. Anything that stands between the people and growth should be declared public enemy number one," said van Zyl.

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He also said the industry should no longer tolerate "theoretical legislation and policies" that made no difference on the ground.

"Any piece of legislation or policy that is not streamlined towards growth is by implication opposed to growth," he added.

According to Van Zyl, the conference was also a platform to celebrate " the heroes who had stepped forward to address the needs of others.

One such hero was the founder of Gift of The Givers, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, who heeded the instruction of his spiritual mentor to serve people.

The organisation now provides disaster response, hunger alleviation, basic services, healthcare, education and investment in human development.

Sooliman summed up the work of his organisation as "restoring dignity" to people.

"In this country we need to fix spirituality, morality, ethics and values. Everything else will fall into place. We need to fix these four values," said Sooliman.

He also called on leaders of corporates, businesses, non-governmental organisations, civil society, traditional leaders and government to work together to rebuild the country.

"We all need to take ownership and start fixing the country, the infrastructure and create service-oriented jobs," added Sooliman.

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