SAIV calls on government to fast-track infrastructure development amid brain drain and economic threat

The South African government has long hailed infrastructure development as a prominent tool for economic recovery, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan announced in October 2020 – which includes ambitious infrastructure targets – has yet to be meaningfully actioned. The South African Institute of Valuers (SAIV) president, Malusi Mthuli has highlighted the many dire knock-on effects of stalled infrastructure development in the country.

“When infrastructure projects are lacking, the property valuation profession suffers – as well as the wider South African community,” explains Mthuli. “Professional valuation skills are scarce as it is. This small talent pool becomes ever smaller as experienced valuers choose to leave the country due to lack of local infrastructure development. When projects are put on hold – such as the Gautrain extension – valuers seek opportunities in places where projects are more likely to progress. They go abroad and this ultimately means that when projects are finally back on track in South Africa, we will be left without the technical skills capacity to move forward with them.”

The SAIV wants to see the government place more focus on tangible infrastructure projects which will help revitalise many aspects of the property development supply chain. “As it stands today, there is a worrying trend in the property development space, where the government is passing on infrastructure costs to developers,” Mthuli says. He explains, “It has become the case that if you want to build a new housing estate, for example, it is up to the developers to bear the cost of upgrading the surrounding roads, water, sewage systems, etc. This shouldn’t be the case; our people pay rates and taxes which should be used for this kind of work. Yet the reality is that the municipalities are gaining a double benefit at the cost of the developer, who ultimately passes those costs down to the end user – the South African people. This results in inflated property prices.”

Developing the valuations profession

In addition to lobbying for infrastructure development, the SAIV has called on the South African Council for the Property Valuers Profession (SACPVP) to further accredit and develop more academic programmes in order to encourage people to join the profession. “From high school and university level, the valuation profession needs to be promoted and made more accessible. Valuers play a critical role in the economy, and work must be done to develop the valuations industry and the related skills,” comments Mthuli.

A further tool for the development of the industry would be reservation of work, through the Competition Commission, which could ensure that only registered valuers can undertake valuation work, and no other built environment professionals. “This would secure a steady scope of work for valuers and help ensure that properties are valued appropriately and in line with market developments,” explains Mthuli.