Lack of skills 'frustrating'
THE Development Bank of Southern Africa has expressed frustration at the shortage of qualified officials at smaller and rural municipalities to oversee projects financed by the institution.
Acting chief executive TP Nchocho told Parliament's finance portfolio committee that often when the bank finances and supervises infrastructure projects at smaller municipalities there is not enough support from municipal officials to maintain the assets.
"We would send planners, engineers and financial experts there to assist, but the reality is that very often there are no officials to build capacity around. At a particular point when our intervention is withdrawn, the municipality deteriorates back," he said.
He called on the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and on provinces to partner with the bank to help smaller municipalities attract and retain the kind of skilled officials needed to manage large-scale infrastructure development projects.
According to the bank, there are 158 under-resourced municipalities that cater for 34% of the population. They are sitting with massive infrastructure backlogs and high unemployment rates.
It has invested R40-billion mainly in energy, roads and drainage and water projects. Nchocho said the bank was now planning to invest R20-billion to partner the private sector and government in the development of public health facilities; R40-billion in water, sanitation and energy projects; and between R30-billion and R50-billion to assist in the R300-billion transport infrastructure development projects spearheaded by Transnet.
DBSA board chairman Jabu Moleketi said as a development bank, they were required to have an appetite to invest in high risk areas that are traditionally shunned by commercial banks.
National Treasury said it understood that developmental finance was a risky business and that the bank needed further capital injection to undertake investments that are not necessarily attractive to other commercial lenders.
DA finance spokesman Tim Harris called on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to provide details of the planned recapitalisation of the DBSA as the bank's mandate had shifted from financing high capacity metros to low capacity municipalities.
Meanwhile, Moleketi told the committee that a recruitment process was under way to find a replacement for CEO Paul Ngobeni who left at the end of March.
The Sunday Times reported last month that top spy Mo Shaik had been earmarked for the position.