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MBSA Congress 2017

Online since 29.10.2017 • Filed under Professions - Construction & Contractors • From Issue 22 page(s) 45-46
MBSA Congress 2017

Held this year in Cape Town, the Master Builders’ Congress reached for new heights. Involving government, industry leaders, economists and other relevant stakeholders, the 2017 theme was Building South Africa Together.

The proceedings were also open to members of the building community in the Western Cape.

 

The Congress opening keynote address was by Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel, who presented an accurate overview of the SA economy and the status of the National Infrastructure Plan with its implications and opportunities for MBSA members and local contractors.

 

With reference to the economy, delegates were introduced to reality by Patel when he warned: ‘A week ago, the economy emerged from the recession, powered mainly by the exceptionally strong performance of the agriculture sector. Nevertheless, there were some negative signals - two sectors that, in the past eight years had driven economic growth and employment in an otherwise sluggish environment, experienced negative outputs in this past quarter.

 

One of those was the construction industry, a major employer providing work for 1.4 million South Africans and a significant contributor to the country’s GDP’. In an industry as job intensive as construction, this is a challenge indeed.

 

Downward spin – identified and hopefully addressed

Minister Patel, however, revealed the depth of his department’s analysis of the situation by identifying the drivers of the negative growth as being: reduced infrastructure spending by many state-owned enterprises, collusion, corruption, project delays, cost overruns and a lack of transformation.

 

All these factors could be at the heart of the issue but his department is addressing matters with the National Treasury about the possibility of a multiyear budget system to mirror the build cycle of mega infrastructure projects to provide a level of certainty in the market. He also said that, despite the softening of spending, government is still outlaying approximately R280 billion per year on infrastructure and that this will be boosted further with the Minister of Finance adding increasing emphasis on infrastructure spending over the next two budgets. In addition, Patel reminded attendees of the opportunities presented for infrastructure development by urbanisation and growth within other parts of the continent.

 

MBSA Perspective

MBSA President, Bonke Simelane, expanded on the theme for the Congress during his opening address. ‘At this year’s Congress we seek to co-create the future, come up with solutions and put forward resolutions that enable us to contribute meaningfully and make a positive impact as a sector in the face of the country’s triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality’ he said.

 

Almost certainly, the aspect of black economic empowerment in the industry and the delay in implementing the Construction Sector Codes were hot conference topics, involving some heated exchanges between differing parties and speakers.

 

Appeal to construction industry to conserve water

Welcoming delegates on behalf of the host city, Cape Town Executive Deputy Mayor, Ian Neilson, spoke about the severe drought currently affecting the Western Cape.

 

‘Water is a vitally important resource, not only to our health and ecosystems, but to economic production processes and infrastructure development. Reducing consumption is vital and, for this reason, the City has offered the construction industry the option of using treated effluent water to reduce their use of municipal drinking water.

 

‘I would like to urge the construction sector to take action to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry and the economy on which it relies. Like it or not, we live in interesting times. However, times of disruption and uncertainty also offer unique opportunities. To seize these opportunities, we need to change how we do things,’ Neilson said.

 

Competition and the Act

The Deputy Commissioner of the Competition Commission of SA, Hardin Ratshisusu, was on hand to provide some vital insight into the state of competition within the industry during a hard hitting speech. He also provided some friendly advice to firms submitting bids for tenders:

 

What you should do – by Competition Commission of SA

• Participate in tender and other business activities independently from your competitors.

• Conduct your market-facing activities independently from your competitors.

• Provide regular competition law compliance training for all relevant personnel

• Ensure industry association meetings have agendas circulated beforehand. If any problematic items are included, note your objections in writing.

• Ensure that industry association meetings are minuted. Object and ensure that objections are recorded and leave the meeting if problematic topics are discussed. Ensure that your departure is recorded in the meeting minutes.

• Ensure that joint bids are approved of in writing by the client and that ‘Chinese walls’ are in place to prevent non-bid specific exchanges of competitively-sensitive information.

• If in doubt, seek advice. The Competition Commission offers an advisory opinion service.

 

What you should not do – by Competition Commission of SA

• Discuss or coordinate on any aspect of a tender with your competitors.

• Discuss or exchange any competitively-sensitive information with competitors.

• Use industry associations as a platform for cartel conduct.

• Use joint bids as an opportunity to discuss or engage in (sharing) non-bid specific information.

 

Master Builders South Africa

W www.congress.masterbuilders.org

Issue 22

Issue 22

November 2017

This article was featured on page 45-46 of
To Build Magazine Issue 22.

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