Government’s target of creating 500 000 jobs before the end of the year is “ambitious”, says audit firm KPMG project advisory services director Jeff Shaw.
“One of the difficulties that government will have, is measuring where, when and how jobs are created. I am aware that, in the new government structure, a Planning Commission, together with a Monitoring and Evaluation function, has been established in the Presidency and, in the long term, that will help to put in place accurate measures for job creation,” states Shaw.
He points out, that in order to create more jobs, a realistic and sustainable view of economic growth and opportunity needs to be adopted by South Africa to encourage and fulfil the upliftment of its people.
The recent World Economic Forum raised awareness around the dire need for social upliftment and job creation – globally – as a result of the recession.
KPMG believes that the key driver for sustainable job creation lies in government’s R787-billion infrastructure spend. This initiative will only realise the expected benefits if clear socioeconomic targets are set at macro level and then rolled out to every project in a way that can be monitored and managed. Putting in place the processes necessary to plan and monitor the infrastructure spend will take time.
“If one looks at the infrastructure initiative, I do not believe that we are vastly different from the rest of the world. KPMG recently carried out a series of global surveys centring around infrastructure, which have indicated that, with small regional differences, the global view of the benefits and challenges facing national infrastructure programmes are surprisingly similar.
“Globally, survey respondents see the lack of adequate infrastructure as limiting economic growth and there is consensus that infrastructure delivery stimulates economic growth. Clearly, though, the impact of the spend as a key driver to getting economies out of the slump is a function of how quickly, efficiently and effectively the projects can be delivered.”
Shaw adds that, according to the KPMG survey, globally, the number one concern around getting infrastructure moving relates to government’s effectiveness.
“About 76% of the respondents said government’s effectiveness is seen as the major risk to infrastructure delivery, and that
includes South Africa. Provided it is well structured and managed, the infrastructure spend has the potential to spur development, but it needs to be done correctly and efficiently.”
He notes that, throughout the world, there is doubt about stimulus packages because governments find it difficult to get mega projects off the ground.
In the developed countries, infrastructure programmes tend to focus on replacing or upgrading existing assets, but in South Africa most people still lack basic amenities, and the infrastructure programme is focused on new assets.
“In the past, most of the focus in our projects was on the traditional project management imperatives of time, cost and scope of the end product. “We believe that socioeconomic objectives will become as important as the traditional measures of project success.
“Since 1994, all government projects include a social upliftment component. Our view is that all significant government contracts should require achievement of specified socioeconomic goals, which will differ from project to project. This will require a much higher level of planning and management from both government and the contractors and vendors,” states Shaw.
He emphasises that measurable objectives should be set, covering a wide range of socioeconomic objectives, both during construction of the infrastructure and during its economic life.