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Dept looking to expedite payments to contractors

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“This, in fact, is not only under DPWI but in all national and provincial government departments,”

THE DEPARTMENT of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) will be looking at ways of expediting payments to contractors for government work.

This was announced by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, in response to Covid-19.

De Lille pointed out that the construction industry and built environment sector, especially when working for national and provincial governments, were going to be faced with severe financial crisis over the next two to three months, due to the end of the government’s financial year being March 31, 2020.

“This, in fact, is not only under DPWI but in all national and provincial government departments,” said De Lille.

She added that she had communicated this to the president to determine what solution the department could come up with to assist in expediting payments for work done “or maybe extending the payment authorisation payment period for the 2019/20 financial year beyond March 31”.

“Most companies have been told to close their doors and send staff home. This will further mean that there will be a delay in signing new contracts in the new financial year, meaning there is a slim possibility that they would only be able to commence work in May and invoice in August, being paid 30 days later at the end of August 2020.”

De Lille pointed out that this, in essence, meant that many/most professional service providers, contractors and material suppliers will have no revenue coming in for at least three months and maybe as long as five months.

De Lille added that during engagements with industry bodies, meetings were also held with the South African Property Owners’ Association (SAPOA) which represents a large portion of role-players in the commercial property field as well as approximately 1 000 companies and organisations. “It’s members own and control about 90% of all commercial, retail, office and industrial properties in SA to the value of approximately R1 trillion and constitute some of the largest rate payers in South Africa,” De Lille said.

“SAPOA has sent various notices to industry over the last week as the industry is one which interacts daily with members of the public at their offices and at shopping centres.

“They have communicated to their members what interventions can be implemented to reduce and delay community transmission of the virus. They have stressed to their members that these measures must be implemented.

“Some of the key instructions they have sent to the shopping centres include: routine cleaning of frequently used surfaces and intensifying rigorous cleaning and sanitising efforts at frequently used surfaces such as seating, handrails, shopping trolleys, credit card machines, elevators.

“They have also instructed that there should be an increased frequency of cleaning, removing items that cannot be cleaned such as stuffed toys, magazines, increasing ventilation, providing access to hand-washing facilities and hand sanitising dispensers and if appropriate setting up testing centres in parking lots at malls in consultation with public health officials.”

SAPOA has also taken a decision not to host any event with more than 100 people until the end of July 2020.