The Department of Human Settlements has a budget of R33.4-billion available to it for the 2017/18 financial year.
“Of this, R873-million is directed towards initiatives and administration of the department, while R19.9-billion will be transferred to provinces,” Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said during a pre-budget vote presentation on Thursday.
She added that R11.4-billion would be transferred to the eight metropolitan municipalities in the form of an urban settlements development grant, and that transfers to departmental entities and related parties would reach R1.2-billion.
She added that government plans to roll out 46 catalytic projects across all nine provinces.
“Clearing the backlog of title deeds is another priority that government will focus on this year. This has become critical because the longer it takes to deal with this, the more difficult it has become.”
She pointed out that a study found that, of the six-million registered residential properties in the Deeds Registry, 1.44-million were government-subsidised houses, representing just less than a quarter of registered residential properties.
“It could increase to 35% if the backlog in issuing title deeds is not overcome,” she said.
Sisulu said a Ministerial task team has been appointed to address the backlog.
A team of conveyancers, who are part of this task team, have also been appointed and have been assigned to all nine provinces to assist with the elimination of the title deeds backlog.
“A critical element in this project is the communication and consumer awareness-raising component that will set out both the benefits and risks attached to title deeds,” she said.
Sisulu highlighted that the allocation of stands where government has land was another major priority this year, noting that government wants to encourage people to move towards this option, wherever it is available.
“We will ensure that services are supplied, stands cut out and encourage our people with technical support to build [homes] for themselves.
She also stated the Property Practitioners Bill has been published for public comment.
Sisulu added that a team has been established to drive the Human Settlements Bill, which establishes legally the human settlements approach in line with policies and the National Development Plan.
“I indicated that we will establish an ombudsman office to deal with issues of conflicts between contractors, provinces and municipalities. With the ombudsman office, we are setting up a structure that will mediate, work with all stakeholders to resolve disputes and cut through red tape in the best interests of the human settlements sector,” she said.
She added that the department has appointed Themba Mthethwa as Human Settlements Ombudsman.