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Minister wants Contractors Act that 'makes sense'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Minister of Works wants a Construction Contractors Act that "makes sense and is enforceable", pledging that he will not be rushed into giving the legislation full effect.

Desmond Bannister told Tribune Business he wanted to make sure there were no outstanding issues or problems with the Act before the Government gave it full force.

He said this would involve a full assessment of the Parliamentary debate on the legislation, indicating that as the minority Opposition party at the time, not all concerns raised by the Free National Movement (FNM) may have been taken into account.

Mr Bannister added that the Minnis administration also wanted to meet with contractors to ensure their concerns were addressed, explaining that it was better to make changes now rather than after the Act had become law.

Acknowledging that the legislation had been passed by the former Parliament, the Minister told Tribune Business: "We have to determine whether there are any aspects of the Act that have to be reviewed.

"it would be remiss of me to simply have the legislation come into effect without looking at the full content of the [Parliamentary] debate, and if there's any issue of importance to professionals in the industry that was not considered.

"One of my colleagues told me he raised an issue of importance to the profession.... At the time, we were the minority party, and if there were issues raised by our side that were important, it's important for us to sit with the professionals and discuss it with them."

Mr Bannister was responding after Leonard Sands, the Bahamian Contractors Association's (BCA) president, told Tribune Business on Friday that the industry was "waiting with bated breath" to see when the Act would be given effect.

He said the appointment of the Board that will oversee the Construction Contractors Act is the last remaining obstacle to its implementation, and that the wait had left the sector "kind of in limbo" due to the uncertainty surrounding whether the new regulatory regime was in effect.

Mr Bannister emphasised that he respected the views of Mr Sands and others, but said: "If there are amendments that have to be made, it's sensible to make them rather than rush something into effect that could be corrected easily.

"I certainly intend to respect industry professionals, do things in a certain way, and I will sit down with them, hear their views, look them in the eyes and see what they want from a regulatory perspective.

"I'm not going to try and impose something on the profession," he added, "but I want to know they're going to the things that have to be done to ensure the legislation makes sense and is enforceable, and is something everyone is comfortable with before we bring it into effect."

The Construction Contractors Act promises to yield significant benefits for the industry, consumers and the wider Bahamian economy if it functions as intended.

For the Act, when implemented, will introduce a system of licensing and self-regulation, where Bahamian contractors are certified according to their qualifications and scale/scope of work they are capable of undertaking.

This would place them on a 'level playing field' with foreign contractors, enabling them to better compete for multi-million dollar contracts on foreign direct investment (FDI) projects that come to the Bahamas because their capabilities are certified.

The Act also includes provisions giving Bahamian consumers means of redress, and protection, against shoddy workmanship by so-called 'cowboy contractors' - something that has been a frequent complaint among residents.

The construction industry is the last professional trade in the Bahamas to be regulated by statute law, and efforts to finally achieve this are now into their fourth administration. The Act is similar to those regulating the engineering and architect professions, in that it will self-regulate contractors via a Board comprised of members from both the private and public sectors.

Comments

killemwitdakno 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't build any more houses that aren't on a raised foundation safe from flooding!!

Only use hurricane proof roofs.

Require larger manholes with ladders attached and sunroof escape hatches.

Introduce sandwhich cemented and stucco for American style interior walls.

With all the repair work available , don't allow people to be screwed without a reporting system available now.

Bahamian houses are better than brick houses which can't withstand tornadoes.

Go back to grinding conchshells for cement walls on shorelines.

killemwitdakno 7 years, 1 month ago

Shacks on the beaches should be moveable homes.

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