SAfrica sees 2010 World Cup costs rise up to 20 pct

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PRETORIA, Nov 20 (Reuters) Projected costs for South Africa's preparations to host the 2010 soccer World Cup could be up to 20 percent higher due to factors such as rising steel and cement prices, the deputy finance minister said today.

In a briefing in the capital Pretoria, Deputy Minister of Finance Jabu Moleketi said officials in the nine host cities had delivered cost escalations between 2.8 billion rand (418 million dollars) and 3.4 billion rand above what had been budgeted.

''These are some of the projections that are coming in,'' he said.

Moleketi added that the government planned to question and verify the cost escalations and it would have a clearer idea of the World Cup cost by the time Finance Minister Trevor Manuel presents the country's budget in February 2008.

The South African government has budgeted about 17.5 billion rand for the construction and refurbishment of soccer stadiums and other infrastructure for the tournament.

Moleketi added that the government was confident that organised labour and workers who have been demanding higher wages and concessions at stadium work sites would not ''sabotage'' the preparations.

REUTERS RAR ND1808

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