New govt building shelved

2009-11-25 00:00

OPPOSITION parties in the Kwa­Zulu-Natal Legislature have welcomed the decision to put on hold the building of a new parliamentary complex.

Finance MEC Ina Cronjé made the announcement during the finance committee meeting yesterday, saying the decision was due to the economic recession. The cabinet and legislature are re-evaluating the project, she said. “Pending the outcome of this process, all further decisions have been put on hold.”

Land was identified for the new parliament complex near Townhill Hospital, and a decision approving its construction was taken in 2006.

IFP MPL and finance committee member Roman Liptak said it has taken a global economic melt-down “to bring the ANC in KZN to the realisation that the province, beset by high levels of poverty and unprecedented fiscal overspending, cannot afford to build a new complex”.

“The IFP, which has opposed the new parliamentary complex from the outset as an extravagant diversion from more pressing challenges faced by the province, welcomes the announcement … that the project has been effectively put on hold,” said Liptak.

He said that, according to Cronje, the provincial government will make a final decision on January 31, 2010, but the province’s current multi-billion rand fiscal over-expenditure and the government’s all-out effort to arrest it suggest that the project will be shelved.

“The finance committee, which was previously led to believe that the venture was in the hands of the provincial Treasury, today discovered that the new parliamentary complex has, in fact, been the legislature’s own pet project, with senior legislature staff in charge of bidding procedures,” said Liptak.

The project, said Liptak, which has so far cost R7,1 million in its preliminary stages, could in the end have cost at least R600 million, which is the conservative estimate of the amount spent on the new parliamentary complex in Mpumalanga.

The Democratic Alliance said it also welcomed Cronje’s announcement.

DA spokesman on finance, Johann Krog, said the decision comes amid reports that KZN is in serious financial trouble, with an overdraft sitting at between R2 and R3 billion.

“In light of KZN’s current financial position, the decision to place building operations on hold is an obvious one. Our pro­vince is in no position to carry the cost of building a new legislature, at an initial cost of R800 million,” said Krog.

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