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2004-02-28 20:25:00

Concerns Raised Over Foreign Contractors

Foreign contractors who enter and never leave the country is of grave concern to local builders, according to Minister of Financial Services and Investments Allyson Maynard Gibson.

"A contractor may enter The Bahamas for a particular job and ends up moving from site to site," said Minister Gibson who addressed a luncheon meeting of The Bahamas Contractors' Association Tuesday.

She said that during the past 18 months, local contractors have pointed out that foreign contractors have no overheads, are usually housed on the construction site by the developer and pay little or no business license fees.

"The government will continue to look deeper into the circumstances and the conditions under which foreign contractors are allowed to operate in The Bahamas," Minister Maynard Gibson assured. "The government has taken action in this matter in the form of an Act to Amend the Business Licence Act to provide for Temporary Business Licenses."

The Act will provide for the payment by foreign contractors of 1 percent of the value of the contract before they can get a business licence, she said.

"Also it provides that they must obtain a business licence for each contract," the Minister added. "The intention is to discourage the practice of moving from site to site either paying no business licence fee or less than they ought to pay."

Another concern has been in the area of tendering, she said.

"You feel that the pre-qualifications required, including bonds (which are subsidized for US contractors) and what you consider to be the lack of uninformity in this process almost always discriminate against the local and smaller contractors in the country," she said.

Successful competitive tendering is fully supported by the Ministry, she said.

Minister Maynard Gibson added that the government will continue to work in partnership with the industry to put in place various requirements, including some sort of payment bond requirement for foreign contractors on all contracts.

She promised more government interaction with the construction industry and more lead time notice to the industry on projects.

Minister Maynard Gibson suggested that contractors promote professionalism in the Bahamian building industry, educate members on the building codes, create new products and new technology and maintain a dialogue with the government.

Yvette Rolle-Major, The Bahama Journal 

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