BBBEE could regenerate industry

Johannesburg – The embattled construction industry is looking at leveraging the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) charter to reap the rewards.

Master Builders Association executive director Mohau Mphomela says government’s infrastructure plans will remain unrealised unless the industry is able to regenerate itself – and the Construction Charter could just provide the impetus that is needed.

“The Construction Charter is a highly technical document with somewhat in-flexible requirements, and many are tempted to see it as a grudged ‘cost of doing business’ in South Africa,” said Mphomela.

“But the regulations’ goal of expanding the industry by creating a new pool of black contractors is ultimately one that will benefit everybody.”

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The charter aims to accelerate change in the racial and gender composition of ownership, control and management in the sector. Allon Raiz, the CEO of Raizcorp, agrees, saying that by seeing compliance with the charter strategically, construction companies can start to realise benefits.

“As a result, the money is arbitrarily assigned to any black-owned company just to comply.

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This is wasted expenditure as it benefits construction companies only minimally, if at all, and also contributes to the prevailing view in many quarters that BBBEE is counterproductive,” Raiz said.

“But what if the money was spent as the charter clearly intends; to fast-track the number of black contractors in the industry?

“It will create a greater pool of skilled contractors to call on if the industry gets rolling again, especially as small contractors are often the weak link in big projects.”

“Construction companies have to comply with the Construction Charter – the trick is to do it in a way that compliance becomes a positive rather than a negative exercise,” Mphomela says.

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