Parastatal land to be sold to boost growth

The government will sell or dispose of property and land owned by parastatals so as to boost its economic growth strategy and address the housing backlogs.

Buildings in George Goch outside Johannesburg and the land along the N2 highway in Port Elizabeth, which are owned by infrastructure parastatal Transnet, are some of the "non-core properties" earmarked for this purpose.

They will either be sold, utilised by the government, which will in turn compensate the parastatal concerned.

Government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said yesterday's decision by the cabinet to approve the disposal of these properties was part of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) aimed at stimulating economic growth.

"As part of the AsgiSA programme, one of the things that we noted is that there is quite a lot of land owned by these state-owned enterprises that is lying fallow and not being used but strategically located.

"The question was for purposes of housing development, for purposes of light industrial development, how do you leverage those assets for the benefit of the various cities and the country as a whole?

"It was agreed that there would be further interrogation of the concept of core and non-core properties. Further, in disposing of such properties, current occupants and local residents would get preferential treatment, and ways would be found to compensate state-owned enterprises for any loss of asset value."

While the cabinet has commended the SA Revenue Service for collecting more money from taxpayers, it said this would put pressure on the under-spending provinces and councils to deliver services.

Meanwhile, the cabinet has also urged South Africans to save electricity.

"A higher rate of growth and broadening of access have placed a strain, particularly on transmission to the Western Cape, and on distribution infrastructure in some metropolitan areas. All of us have to conduct ourselves recognising that South Africa is entering a phase of energy demand for economic growth and household consumption which requires us to be mindful of various ways of its conservation."

Article by: By Moshoeshoe Monare