Public works minister De Lille said to be in favour of public-private partnerships.

With the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) who is a large property owner, the South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) is hoping that Patricia de Lille , the DPWI’s newly appointed minister, comes up with a plan to unlock opportunities within its immense property portfolio.

According to Moneyweb, Sapoa CEO Neil Gopal said the association is looking to build a closer working relationship with the expanded department under De Lille.

 “We welcome the appointment of minister De Lille. We believe she is well suited to this role and we intend to work closely with her as she fully understands the commercial principles behind this portfolio to effectively achieve government’s wider socio-economic mandate.”

Gopal added that Sapoa, as the voice of the commercial property sector in SA, had already built a strong working relationship with De Lille when she was mayor of the City of Cape Town.

“The DPWI as well as the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department, which is responsible for municipalities under Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, are critical departments for the commercial property sector to operate and prosper.

“Minister De Lille’s department is the custodian of thousands of buildings covering millions of square metres of floor space across the country, which runs into billions of rand.”

“While the department is one of the biggest property owners in the country, not all of it is ‘sexy’, with many buildings in a dilapidated state,” says Gopal. “Some of these properties are in strategic locations such as city CBDs that could unlock commercial development value and other opportunities.

“Government is sitting on a lot of properties that could generate annuity income for it. It could be a win-win for the government and the property sector if these opportunities are unlocked.”

Sapoa’s leadership has already interacted with De Lille a few times since her appointment, including last week on the sidelines of the Sapoa Convention.

Sapoa president Ipeleng Mkhari commented in her outgoing speech at the recent SAPOA  convention that she was happy to hear from minister De Lille about her keenness around public-private partnerships (PPPs) to unlock opportunities and new infrastructure within the DPWI’s property portfolio.

 “We want to engage with both the public works and cooperative governance departments on matters that affect our industry,” she said. “With cooperative governance, for example, we are really concerned about the unsustainable increases in property rates by municipalities across the country over the years.”

Mkhari noted that rates and taxes represented the highest escalating cost element for the commercial property industry after electricity.