World Cup gets triple cash boost

Waghied Misbach,Ido Lekota and Sapa

Waghied Misbach,Ido Lekota and Sapa

It's official - the government plans to spend R15,1billion to build stadiums and public transport infrastructure for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

This is a R9,5billion increase on the figures Finance Minister Trevor Manuel unveiled earlier this year.

The new figure, more than twice as much as previous estimates, was revealed in parliament yesterday during Manuel's 10th medium-term budget policy statement, also known as the mini-budget, outlining government's spending plans for a three-year period.

Manuel said the government planned to pump more than R80billion into the economy in the next three years.

Of the revised World Cup expenditure estimate, R8,4billion will be spent to upgrade and build10 stadiums in the nine host cities and provide the infrastructure such as water and electricity.

The remaining R6,7billion will be spent on improving transport and other basic infrastructure that will be in use long after the World Cup.

Most of the money will be passed on to the municipalities of the nine cities hosting world cup matches. These are Cape Town; Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela; Durban, eThekwini; Nelspruit, Mbombela; Polokwane; Rustenburg; Pretoria, Tshwane; Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, Mangaung.

There will also be more spending on policing, arts and culture, emergency medical services and border control.

The government intends recruiting and training 10000 additional police personnel - 8000 officers and 2000 civilian staff - to bring the country's total police service to 193000 by 2010.

"The hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup provides South Africa and the region with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to showcase our land and our hospitality in a sporting festival that knows no bounds," Manuel said yesterday.

The global television audience is expected to number 30billion viewers in 240 countries.

Manuel said yesterday there remained a concern about whether municipalities, many of which are struggling, will deliver in time for the world's largest single sports event.

Government was not going to take a "hands-off" approach to the situation, he said.

Deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi rejected criticism that the money could have been spent better elsewhere and called the event an "opportunity that could leave a legacy lasting long after the World Cup".

"The R15,1billion represented only 2percent of the total infrastructure spending of more than R400billion the government was going to spend anyway to modernise the country's ailing road, rail, electricity and other infrastructure," Moleketi said.

It has been estimated that the event will bring more than R22billion into the country.

On Tuesday, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk estimated tourism alone would generate about R11billion.

Van Schalwayk said the hospitality sector was on track to deliver 55000 hotel rooms by 2010, with 19000 rooms already contracted.

The government has signed a number of tax agreements concerning the 2010 World Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup.

This includes duty-free importation of goods such as broadcast and other media equipment, and pharmaceuticals specifically needed for the event.

A total of R3,5billion has been allocated to justice and crime prevention from revised expenditure estimates on priority services.

The government had committed itself to achieving a 7percent to 10percent a year reduction in contact crimes.

"Additional allocations are under consideration to improve the administration of justice, including funds to retain staff and increase personnel in the National Prosecuting Authority, the Legal Aid Board, the Special Investigating Unit, the judiciary and the magistracy," the mini-budget said.

Funding had also been proposed for the building of new high courts in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

It also targets the fight against crime as a key area for improvement in the delivery of services by the government.

"In line with this commitment to service delivery, the number of police personnel continues to be expanded, with the focus on strategic locations and sector policing," the mini-budget said.

lA ragtag "army" of former self-defence unit members and liberation struggle soldiers, demanding they be integrated into the South African National Defence Force, have threatened to "plunge the country into turmoil" during the 2010 World Cup if their demands are not met.

l See pages 7 and 23