Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2014 Contents to Point Fortin project, which is $7 billion
over three years, then we look at the other
foreigners taking part in the local construction
industry, they also have to be paid and require
foreign exchange if only to repatriate their
profits. So if more locals do jobs, the foreign
currency fight would be reduced," he said.
Joseph said he wants to deal with the issue
of contractors licencing and registration.
"This is where we wish to improve the per-
formance of the industry. We need to have
a legislative framework to guarantee the con-
tractors we have are competent and prepared
to perform in accordance with all the require-
ments of the industry," he said.
He said legislation would ensure contractors
are licensed and committed to performing.
"The licences could be a semi annual thing,
tri-annually, it could be every five years. But
every five years, this contractor has to be
licensed and prove his competency and skills
and resources to operate within the framework
capacity and it brings guarantees to the clients.
So If someone is a house builder, they must
prove to the licensing authority that resident
in the organisation has all the necessary com-
Joseph said one of the problems in T&T is
it s a "certificate society."
"So once you have an academic certificate
from an institution, you are assumes to be
an engineer. You need to have experience and
working knowledge as an engineer."
He admits there are contractors who per-
form "shoddy work."
"We need to focus on skills training to have
the necessary skills for the industry improved.
However, how did that contractor become a
contractor? Was he required to prove he has
the necessary competence to do the job he
was asked to do? Was he examined and
licensed? There are no standards at the
He said during the last administration, the
TTCA presented to then works minister Colm
Imbert a template for legislation on how to
guide contractor licensing and registration.
"That still remains in the Ministry of Works
today. That was done in December 2009. In
2010, then minister (of works) Jack Warner
promised he would take it out and bring it
forward, but it was just a promise and he did
nothing. The Government does not see this
as necessary and important," he said.
Joseph said it "grieves" him that home-
owners go to unscrupulous persons who pass
themselves off as "contractors."
"People complain about contractors, but a
lot of the people they use are not contractors.
They pick up tradesmen who believe they can
make money by finding work without the full
knowledge of what they do. People have no
knowledge of the technology behind what they
are doing and they are trying to get as much
money as possible out of that and it ends of
being a fiasco."
Joseph said people complain about "cor-
ruption", but questioned why they still go to
these unprofessional contractors.
"The Housing Development Corporation
will tell you they are getting shoddy work, but
have they named the contractor who has done
it? That same contractor, I am sure, has been
recommended to work for other people."
He said a licensing regime would help as
that so-called contractor can be suspended
from working on public projects for a year or
He believes the Government will be putting
out more projects over the next year as election
"The Government putting projects so people
can vote for them, the people they neglected
over the last few years. So, yes, the Govern-
ment will throw some work out there, but
whether the process will allow everyone a fair
chance at winning these jobs, I do not know,"
Joseph said the construction sector operates
like a "secret order."
"Nobody knows for sure what projects will
be developed. Long ago, you could have taken
up the PSIP or whatever else to see what proj-
ects come on stream; today, all you get is
announcements. Each Government entity that
procures construction services tends to keep
things close to their chest, so no one will be
able to prepare themselves for upcoming proj-
ects," he said.
Joseph said he is not sure how much money
is owed to contractors by the Government
now, but said it remains a "perennial prob-
"I could give an example of ESPL and they
are owed $100 million. Some contractors have
had to reduce their workforce because of this.
Many people are afraid to say how much is
owed to them as they are afraid of victim-
isation," he said.
Joseph said the problem is not only with
the Government, but also with foreign con-
"Some foreign contractors refused to pay
local contractors and suppliers. There is Sam-
sung Engineering Ltd, which is doing work
for Petrotrin and owes millions of dollars to
local contractors. The Korean contractors are
not honest. Then you have the Chinese con-
tractors, like Shanghai, which owes money,
A group of URP contractors said Govern-
ment owes it $111 million. Works and Infra-
structure Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan
has ordered an audit of the programme, saying
some of the work contractors claimed to have
done was not completed.
JUNE 2014 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
Foreign contractors part of tight forex issues
Continued from Page 4
The aquatic centre and cycling track under construction in Couva.
Below is the Divali Nagar overpass under construction by Jusamco.
PHOTOS: VINDRA GOPAUL-BOOODAN
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