JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government is moving to increase efficiency in the way that it grants construction contracts by cutting down on the processing period of proposals to four months.
  • This processing period ranged from a high of 18 to 24 months in January 2012, to approximately six months currently.
  • The seminar included discussions on: ‘NCC Registration – Enabling or Disabling the Local Construction Industry’; ‘Solving Jamaica’s Energy Crisis With Renewable Energy’...

The Government is moving to increase efficiency in the way that it grants construction contracts by cutting down on the processing period of proposals to four months.

According to Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, over the years there have been inordinate delays between the issuance of Requests for Proposals for construction activity and the eventual granting of contracts by government entities.

This processing period ranged from a high of 18 to 24 months in January 2012, to approximately six months currently.

“One of the critical steps we have taken is that rather than waiting around for 18 months to two years to know whether the contract is going ahead, we are going to start guaranteeing,  unless something untoward happens, that we  move towards getting the time lag between the Request for Proposal and the actual approval of the contract closer to four months,” Dr. Davies said.

The Minister was addressing the Incorporated Master Builders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ) seminar at the Jamaica Conference Centre, today (November 13), being held under the theme: ‘The Construction Sector: Creating Opportunities, Building Our Nation’.

He pointed out that during the long waiting period, there would always be significant changes which would virtually guarantee that project implementation is  delayed, even after the contract has been finally approved by Cabinet. These would include changes in prices of the goods, in conditions, and in some instances in the status of the contractor and his registration with the National Contracts Commission (NCC).

The Minister said that streamlining the contract granting process can result in a more efficient allocation of resources.

Looking at the government’s role in creating opportunities in the construction sector, Dr. Davies pointed out that the fiscal limitations imposed by successive agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has had an impact. He added that the agreement calls for overall limits on GOJ expenditure, therefore even self financing entities are limited as to what they can spend on projects.

He noted that the challenge facing the government is to find ways of maximizing growth in the construction sector through its limited expenditure. “One objective is to see that whatever resources are available, are efficiently allocated and spent in a timely manner,” Dr. Davies said.

The Minister also spoke to the need to streamline the various regulations, such as obtaining development approvals at both the central and local government levels for private sector participants in the construction sector.

“It is recognized by this administration that there is the need to ensure that there is greater predictability in terms of the lag period between the submission of a development application and obtaining of final decision.  It (the response) doesn’t have to be yes, but there is value in certainty and predictability. At present, the expected waiting period is uncertain and several months can pass before there is a response from the relevant agency and official,” Dr. Davies said.

The Minister informed that  streamlining the sector represents a specific contribution which government can make in terms of facilitating growth in the sector, thus creating more opportunities.

Also addressing the seminar was President of the IMAJ, Carvel Stewart, who spoke on a wide range of issues affecting the sector, including challenges with the registration and re-registration of contractors with the NCC.

Mr. Stewart also called for the implementation of the Construction Industry Policy, which is meant to improve and streamline operations within the industry as well as the relationships between all the stakeholders.

“The current document that was, we were told, tabled in Parliament for some time, is acceptable to all of us in its current form and we ask and urge that the document be brought to fruition, to the point… where it can be promulgated as part of our policy structure and framework,” he urged.

The seminar  included discussions on: ‘NCC Registration – Enabling or Disabling the Local Construction Industry’; ‘Solving Jamaica’s Energy Crisis With Renewable Energy’; ‘Secrets To A Successful Construction Business’; Creating Opportunities, Building Our Nation’; Using Information Technology To Stay In Front of the Competition’; ‘Preparing For Opportunities – Identifying the Right Training Programmes’; as well as  a number of skills training workshops.