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Zikalala Vows to Put an End to Delayed Payments in Construction Industry

by Central News Reporter
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Minister Sihle Zikalala, the Public Works and Infrastructure Minister

Minister of Public Works Sihle Zikalala

 

Minister Sihle Zikalala, the Public Works and Infrastructure Minister, has delivered a powerful message to the construction industry: the failure to pay service providers within 30 days must come to an end.

Speaking at the National Stakeholder Forum convened by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), Minister Zikalala emphasized the need to address payment backlogs and tackle issues related to access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and emerging contractors.

 

In his address to the forum, Minister Zikalala expressed concern over reports of outstanding invoices amounting to billions, due to delayed payments to contractors. He stated, “We will commence engagements with all contractors not paid on time. It is time that we fight bribery and corruption where payments are delayed in order to force them to pay.”

The Minister also highlighted the importance of intensifying the Re Ya Patala (We Pay) campaign, an initiative launched by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure in 2009 to address payment backlogs to service providers in the construction industry.

 

Acknowledging the challenges faced by SMMEs in accessing finance and loans for building materials and resources, Minister Zikalala emphasized the need for innovation in supporting contractors. He indicated a historic partnership between the CIDB and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), focusing on financing small and medium contractors and cooperatives involved in the construction sector. The partnership will see the CIDB and SEFA contributing up to R150 million each, aiming to address the financial needs of SMMEs and emerging contractors in the industry.

 

Stakeholders at the forum urged Minister Zikalala to investigate and report on the escalating rate of the cancellation of tenders, particularly large tenders by parastatals and institutions, which have resulted in significant financial losses for the construction industry.

In addition to tackling payment delays and access to finance, the Minister also highlighted the need to address the slow career advancement in the built environment industry. Expressing concern over suspicions of gatekeeping, he stated that over 30,000 professionals have been kept at the candidacy level for an extended period. The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, through its entity, the Council for the Built Environment (CBE), will establish a national logbook to track progress and standardize the process of obtaining professional recognition within the industry.

Moreover, the CBE will strengthen its relationship with tertiary institutions and councils to accelerate the preparation, mentoring, and registration of students at lower academic levels, enhancing the career path of professionals in the built environment industry.

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