Hon House Chair, hon members and guests in the gallery, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, embarked on an oversight visit to the national department and its entities, in Gauteng. Part of the visit was to check whether what we have been getting reports on as the new committee in the sixth administration is it true or not.
We made several findings on our oversight, but we can't not acknowledge that the department has made progress in terms of cleaning and how it operates. The audit opinions of the Auditor- General of SA on the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and Property Management Trading Entity, PMTE, have shown a significant improvement.
We found out that the Independent Development Trust, IDT, much as it has challenges, but when given a task, it can clearly deliver on the social infrastructure projects as the case that we saw with the Booysens Magistrate Court which is the state of the art court in Johannesburg. However, what worried us as the committee, is that much as the IDT has done so, but now maintenance has been given to Coega and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA, by the client department, whereas IDT was at the centre of facilitating.
We also find out that the department, in some cases has a challenge in terms of accommodating and maintaining buildings for client departments. A case in point is Telkom Towers. It is the head office of SA Police Service, SAPS, but it has not been occupied for five years, whereas security and maintenance is paid. This has to be urgently addressed and as the committee we are going to put a sharp
eye on this and requesting reports timeously, because the deadline that has been set out now is 15 April 2020.
As we were doing our oversight, we also found out about the issue of the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP grant. Much as that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is the one issuing the incentive grant, but the national departments, the provincial departments, the municipalities and the nonprofit organisations, NPOs, that are implementing do not stick to the guidelines and the reporting format that public works has set out. That has made that to be an issue by the Auditor-General on the books of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. As such, we felt that as the committee, it is one of the issues that we are going to follow up and ensure that it is done according to the guidelines which are very clear and the reporting format as set out.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and its PMTE, as the committee we feel that it has to be strengthened. That can only be done if the White Paper dated 1997 entitled Public Works towards the 21st Century can be reviewed, because this has not been done. This review would result in a draft Public Works Bill that would enhance the department and its entity, PMTE's powers to collect management fees from client departments and exact its legal mandated
powers as landlord and custodian of government properties as per the Constitution and Government Immovable Asset Management Act.
We feel that public works does not have the muscles and teeth to deal with the client departments. So, if this can be past as a Bill public works can then have that.
The transformation of the construction and the professional built environment requires serious attention. This can be addressed and has a potential to develop more jobs and get the economy on the recovery path as out President has said so that we need to change the way our economy is.
Lastly, as the committee we feel that having done so and had so many findings, there are issues that we are going to follow up and do oversight on. The issue of the SAPS, of the Telkom Towers, the EPWP branch, the Council for the Built Environment, CBE, and Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB, that we feel that if transformation can be done there, a lot of jobs can be created.
Also the issue of the unemployment and transformation which requires policy urgency and we feel that we need to also consider the
establishment of the national skills plan especially towards the built environment.