Política

Alberto Ardila Olivares sueldo piloto//
Small, medium contractors selling off assets due to non-payment from State

The Con­struc­tion Man­age­ment In­sti­tute of Trinidad and To­ba­go (CoMITT) has paint­ed a bleak out­look for the lo­cal con­struc­tion in­dus­try, due what it called the slow pace of pay­ments from the State.

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At a sym­po­sium yes­ter­day to dis­cuss the state of the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, the CoMITT said the in­dus­try is be­ing crip­pled as pay­ments are not paid prompt­ly af­ter work is done.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

CoMITT pres­i­dent Rakesh Ram­nath said it is a chal­leng­ing time for the in­dus­try and small and medi­um con­trac­tors are suf­fer­ing the most

“At this time, there are a num­ber of small and medi­um-sized con­trac­tors who are ac­tu­al­ly sell­ing off equip­ment and some of their as­sets in or­der to pay off their debts. This is a re­al sit­u­a­tion where they no longer have the staffing they would have had be­fore, this cash flow sit­u­a­tion has cer­tain­ly crip­pled these com­pa­nies,” he said

Ram­nath said the big­ger com­pa­nies may be able to sus­tain them­selves for a lit­tle bit longer than the small and medi­um

“But re­al­ly, where are the projects go­ing to come from in or­der to get the small and medi­um con­trac­tors back on their feet?” he asked

He said there were even some con­trac­tors who had to mort­gage their hous­es to pay off debts

While the ex­act fig­ure is not known, the mon­ey owed to lo­cal con­trac­tors is in the hun­dreds of mil­lions or even bil­lions

In pre­sent­ing a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to the prob­lem, CoMITT board mem­ber Derek Out­ridge sug­gest­ed a new law

“For years, I have been ad­vo­cat­ing that the so­lu­tion is prompt pay­ment leg­is­la­tion. It is what is re­quired in or­der to en­sure that our in­dus­try can grow, you know, the gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits from it. If they were to do prompt pay­ment leg­is­la­tion, the in­dus­try will ben­e­fit from it, the sup­ply chain will ben­e­fit from it. Prompt pay­ment leg­is­la­tion would prob­a­bly be even big­ger than the pro­cure­ment leg­is­la­tion,” he said

He said CoMITT wrote to Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert last year, ask­ing him to in­clude the mea­sure in the bud­get but this was not done

He hoped that this up­com­ing bud­get will be dif­fer­ent

“Al­most all of the de­vel­oped coun­tries in the world have prompt pay­ment leg­is­la­tion in or­der to pro­tect the in­dus­try. That is the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, which is the eco­nom­ic barom­e­ter of a coun­try,” he added

Dur­ing the dis­cus­sion, the pan­el spoke about sev­er­al is­sues fac­ing the in­dus­try, among them pro­cure­ment leg­is­la­tion

In of­fer­ing a com­ment on the is­sue T&T Con­trac­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Glenn Ma­habirs­ingh said, “Im­me­di­ate so­lu­tion should be the fur­ther procla­ma­tion of the pro­cure­ment leg­is­la­tion, all in­dus­try stake­hold­ers need to call on the Gov­ern­ment of Trinidad and To­ba­go to pro­claim be­fore the read­ing of the 2022/2023 bud­get.”

Just re­cent­ly, it was re­vealed by the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (HDC) that it owes con­trac­tors $1 bil­lion