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Govt owes $4B to construction sector

Friday, February 17 2017

GOVERNMENT owes more than $4 billion to an estimated 200 firms in the construction sector, ranging from contractors to suppliers, engineers and architects.

This debt goes back to 2008, in some cases.

President of the TT Contractors Association (TTCA) Mikey Joseph is seeking a “sit down” meeting with Government where both parties can engage each other and arrange a schedule of payments.

Joseph issued the call during a press conference on Wednesday at the Professional Centre Building, Fitzblackman Drive in Woodbrook.

Asked how realistic it is to expect the debt to be settled in the foreseeable future, given the recession, Joseph said the association does not have any such expectation hence its request for a meeting to discuss a payment schedule.

Joseph reminded that while the payments remain outstanding, contractors have obligations such as VAT, PAYE, NIS and in addition, “the system of tendering requires you to have certain people on your payroll. Who is going to work for (months) while contractors wait to be paid?” In terms of state entities owing contractors the most money, Joseph said the Ministry of Education’s Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL), the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the Ministry of Works and Transport are the main State bodies owing money.

He had harsh words about the continued delay in certifying and paying money owed to contractors. “The issue of certifying the debt, if you’re a responsible government and you come into office and meet a bad situation, I don’t think it should take you 18 months to figure out where you’re at because, as Minister of Finance, you have to get the country’s finances in some kind of good order,” the TTCA president said.



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