Half-built construction charter hobbled by disputes

Posted On Thursday, 02 June 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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The conclusion of a transformation charter for the construction industry has stalled as government.

Construction IndustryCAPE TOWN — The conclusion of a transformation charter for the construction industry has stalled as government, industry players and organised labour failed to agree on targets and deadlines for transformation in the industry.

Parliament’s public works committee heard yesterday that the "weightings and targets" were still in dispute, but it was hoped that these would be resolved by the end of June so that the charter could be in place on January 1 next year.

The charter provides for large- scale transfer of ownership and control of companies to black hands, particularly black women. It will also have a points system to reward companies which procure their goods from black businesses.

In a presentation to Parliament, James Ngobeni and Mike Wylie, who jointly chair the committee driving the development of a construction industry charter, yesterday took aim at big players in the construction industry, accusing them of manipulating the preferential procurement policies to their own advantage. Wylie and Ngobeni also complained of considerable "fronting" in the industry.

Ngobeni said that over the past 20 years the industry had suffered declining investment and insufficient penetration of the market by black companies.

Wylie said established companies would earn points if they took emerging black companies under their wing and mentored them in a tough industry that had seen many of them go under.

Ngobeni also said the "giants of the industry" were manipulating preferential procurement to their benefit as there was a lack of legal certainty around the subject.

He said a key objective of the charter was to bring an end to the "malpractice" of fronting that saw black people tout for government work and being called directors but finally had little influence in the companies they represent.

He promised that the charter would include an annual obligation to report, would be reviewed periodically and would create an oversight structure to monitor implementation.

Wylie said the work on the "scorecard" was virtually complete, but the "weightings and targets" were still outstanding. "There are discrepancies between industry, government and labour, and compromises will be sought through a thorough discussion of the facts.

"We are hoping to complete this process by the end of June."

Committee chairman Fezile Bhengu said the body would hold a workshop soon with those involved to try and understand the issues and to unblock the process.

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