By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamian Contractors Association’s (BCA) president, Godfrey Forbes, yesterday said “relatively small” progress had been seen in engineering a construction sector rebound, adding that the industry still anticipated a marginal increase in business this year.
Responding to queries on how the Government’s Excise Tax reduction for trucks might benefit the construction industry, Mr Forbes said that while the move might aid some, contractors still needed more work.
“First of all we need to have the work,” he said. “If you don’t have the work it doesn’t matter how many vehicles you have. We need to find ways to get the construction industry really back up to speed.”
The Prime Minister announced during the Government’s Mid-Year Budget statement that the rate of Excise tax on trucks weighing less than 20 tons is being reduced from 85 per cent to its previous level of 65 per cent.
“That’s something that you basically would go ahead and purchase once every two-four years depending on the amount of business that you may have. For contractor who already would have their fleet of vehicles in place, I don’t think that would have any major immediate impact on their business. However, I think as we go along it would be a help for persons who are basically wanting to go ahead and change up some of their work trucks,” said Mr Forbes.
With regards to the Bahamian construction industry’s performance, Mr Forbes said: “There is some small progress being made but again it’s still small. The majority of the local contractors deal with residential homes. They are the contractors that really need the work, but you find that the majority of those homes are generated from government investment projects as it relates to affordable homes for people.
“When you find that not much is being done in that regard, you find that it’s going to heavily impact the construction industry as it relates to the smaller contractors, which by far the majority of contractors.”
He added: “We are still anticipating that 2013 would show some marginal increase in terms of activity. We are seeing a little bit of it but I don’t think it is enough to offset the different issues that we have in the industry right now.
“We have all been hoping that Baha Mar would have been, in a sense, some of the answers to the dilemmas that we have, but unfortunately having their financing come through China and having so much of the labour provided by the Chinese has made it a bit more difficult for us as local contractors to get in there and do that much more.”