Nov 22

Thank Chair

Great audience

Welcome and Thank audience for attending

Background of Institute

Many attempts have been made to establish a representative body for contractors.

As far back as the 80’s and through the 90’s

And some of the participants and contributors to that process are in the audience today.

But we have always suffered for lack of a membership

In the late 90’s an attempt was made again with people like deceased Gregory George, Jesse Norlay and Martin Rene

In 2001 The Institute of Construction (Saint Lucia) Inc was incorporated: Company Certificate, Company stamp and seal and a bank account but no membership.

In April of last year, the SLCSI along with the Ministry of Commerce initiated a process to form a representative organization for the Construction Sector. (discuss meeting)

A steering Committee was formed as follows:

Martin Renee as Chairman

Kurt Elibox – Vice chairman

Glen Louis – PRO

Angel St. Denis – Secretary (FDL)

We have provided representation on the following:

  • Productivity Study
  • Public Private Partnership Policy.

Work of the Institute: Discuss work plan

Why an Institute of Construction or Contractor Association?

Construction is a very important sector to the economy.

A World Bank report, since 1984, has quoted “The construction industry as undoubtedly one of the most important sectors in any modern economy”.

It provides the infrastructure required for economic activity: the roads, bridges, factories, schools, etc. and of course, employment for many.

(So you are part of a significant sector of the economy and making your contribution to such)

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in 2002 said that Construction represented 8% of GDP.

In St. Lucia, the Economic-and-Social-Review 2014, shows a downturn in the construction sector. The sector’s share of GDP continues to decline, falling to 7.4% from an annual average of 10.1% over the last ten years. (12.3% of GDP in 2010).

And an employment rate of 11% in 2010 to 7% in 2013.

Although the down turn, construction still remains a significant sector to the economy.

But despite its meaningful contribution to the economy, construction is not a particularly attractive industry to work in. Most of the work is unhealthy and dangerous. Exposure to the elements, the dirt, damp and dust of a construction site and the speed at which heavy manual tasks have to be undertaken, all take a long-term toll on building workers’ health. And accidents are common place.

So as a result, people stay away from construction; we are unable to attract them.

We need the human resource, but how do we attract people to the industry, how do we get our brilliant minds, the people who are trained and are trainable to take up a career in construction and remain in the sector?

We see students pursue training in construction but do not stay in the industry.

How do we change that, how do we attract them and keep them in the industry.

(Can you do it as an individual firm?).

By chance, one may take up employment in your company and by your organizational structure or culture of your firm he may opt to stay but can we say that for the sector as a whole.

So, as employers, we are under pressure to find the right human resource to deliver the goods. (Can you do that on your own)?

Productivity, competiveness and quality are issues currently on both the national and regional agenda and they are as important to the construction sector as to the wider economy.

The question is: how does our industry measure up to a ruthless competitive regional or even global environment?

On Image

The sector suffers a pour image – the negatives of the industry are abound so, how do we change that and bring the positives to the fore.

How do we fashion our industry to make it sustainable over the medium to long term?

(Do we leave it up to the individual firm or contractor – of course each one has a role to play but it has to be coordinated).

The whole ease of entry and exist does not help…… we see how people can enter and leave freely. (Discuss)

On Tendering

Tendering takes a large share of the contractor’s resources. After you have invested time and resources into the tendering process, are you confident that your tender will be treated fairly? Or is the tendering process just a fair?

After you have invested in your set up, have a proper staff, equipment etc, are you confident that you going to be given a fair chance to tender; a fair evaluation?

One may say that a Private Client or private sector business can do what it wants with its project – which I am not sure that I agree to. But in the case Capital project is it ok?

We all pay taxes and it’s the land of our birth, so we need a fair chance.

On Clients Perception

We have a client that has become more and more sophisticated and as a result is more demanding.

And rightly so, because if you going to pay a mortgage for 15- 20 years you want the product to last.

They know of retention, defects liability and so on.

But, are you certain that you going to get your retention at the end of the contract?

Is it ok for the bank assign the cheque to the client or deposit it into his account while you remain at the mercy of that client.

(These are some of the issues can one firm take that on)

On Contractual Issues

Are we maturing as an industry? If we are then do we have the system, processes and best practices to demonstrate a maturing industry?

Dispute resolution in construction has traditionally been a creature of contract i.e. contracting parties agree to the process. We would like to see, typically, arbitration, reconciliation, mediation and other ADR processes as part of the contract terms.

Therefore, we need:

  • Fit for purpose forms of contract (not JCT 63 which has been out of use almost everywhere else in the world)
  • Up to date legislative framework for ADR.  Our arbitration ordinance (not even a full Act of Parliament) dates back to 1955.
  • A cadre of trained and experienced construction arbitrators and mediators.

Statistics shows that when there is less money in the economy, there are more disputes, as people chase every penny a lot further. Nowhere is that more true than in the construction industry.

As the local and regional economy continues to take a battering over the coming years, we can expect disputes to proliferate.

Hence Contractors big and small need the comfort of knowing they can exercise their contractual rights to recover money or other redress when clients default on their obligations, and the system must facilitate that!

At the moment, the systems are not in place. The time-consuming and expensive court process should not be the only option, with judges and lawyers with little or no experience in construction disputes.

(And we feel for whatever reason, maybe commercial that we may not be invited to the next tender list.) Discuss

The lack of a properly functioning dispute resolution system gives clients an unfair advantage, as they know contractors are not properly able to pursue claims for variations, delay/ disruption, etc. (elaborate)

It is for the professionals to lead the industry into a better future. We need to be advocates of best practice and lobby government to give the necessary support by way of legislation and policy.  

In the UK there is the Housing Act, which is Statutory; so it provides an avenue for Contractors to recover. So we need similar legislation.

(can one firm do that, cause that to happen)?

On contract administration:

I think quality is the key. We need Contract Administrators who will actually administer the contract and not just be there in name only. They need to operate the terms of the contract as between the Contractor and Employer and not be bias towards the person paying them.

A construction contract is all about time; hence things/ decisions must be done to time so that parties’ rights under the contract are not prejudiced.  Contract administrators must keep good records as does the contractor, especially Contractors!

(reiterate what said earlier)

On Training

Another area we are going to collaborate with the SLCSI is in the area of training in the CVQ – Caribbean Vocational Qualification.

As we speak CSME, OECS Union etc. (elaborate)

Whether we like it or not, freedom of movement is a must; it is coming and once one has the CVQ he is entitle to work in any country.

We want to ensure we take our work force up to that level by providing the training and qualification so they too can move around the region and get employment.

We do not want to be left behind, the other islands are moving speedily ahead and we do not want our workers to be reduced to labourers because we did not give them the opportunity to be certified.

The issues are numerous and are beyond any single firm or contractor and as such, have to tackled by a representative body.


So I trust that I have been able to convince you and made a case for a contractor representative body to deal with our issues.