Gauteng fast-tracks development approval

Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Lebogang Maile said his department was committed to reducing red tape to increase the ease of doing business within the province.

“We must pay particular attention to reducing the cost of regulatory approvals, especially for small and medium sized business, which offer the greatest potential for job creation and economic growth,” said Maile.

He was addressing delegates at an MEC Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Open Day on May 11, an annual event that allows investors and developers in different sectors to discuss their experiences with development approval processes.

According to Maile, latest figures from Stats SA indicate Gauteng lost 195 000 jobs in the first quarter of 2016. As a result, the province’s unemployment rate now stands at 30,1%, up from 27% in 2015. Most of the jobs lost were in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Maile said he had taken steps to ensure tender processes are transparent, while government was reducing the time taken by municipalities and provincial governments to approve development applications. “We have reduced the time from 24 months down to 18 months and [then] to three months, and we want to issue EIAs in 30 days,” said the MEC.

He also announced the launch of the Gauteng Environmental Management Framework 2016, aimed at speeding up the issue of permission for activities that do not require environmental authorisation.

“For example, if you are in agro-processing and food production you will use the Gauteng Agricultural Potential Atlas (GAPA) application to locate food production, agro-processing development hubs and potential investment of primary and secondary agricultural development activities,” explained Loyiso Mkwana, chief director of environment in the Gauteng department of economic development.