In T&T: Govt Late on Payments – Contractors Stop Govt Work

29 September 2011

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Local contractors have been forced to stop work on projects because Government has failed to pay outstanding debts of $600 million owed to them, says Mervyn Chin, president of the Contractors Association of Trinidad and Tobago.

He was speaking yesterday at a press conference called by the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC) at the Professional Centre building, Port of Spain.

Chin told the Express most of the outstanding money is owed by the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT), the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the Education Facilities Co Ltd (EFCL).

This contractors’ problem has been with Finance Minister Winston Dookeran since September last year and although assurances were given that the debts will be paid, they never materialised. “Recently contractors who are working for EFCL have stopped work on a few (schools) because of outstanding settlement of money,” Chin said. “The debt is one thing, what is more worrisome is that we have no idea when we will get paid and as time goes it’s putting more and more pressure on the industry,” said Chin.

Dookeran previously said that once the contractors show evidence of money they are owed, they will be paid.

Chin said the onus was not on contractors to show this. He said contractors were given certificates by the consultants who work on behalf of Government and these certificates are bonafide. “As a matter of fact I can’t comprehend what is the difficulty acknowledging the certificates and paying,” he said.

JCC president Afra Raymond said assurances were given by HDC managing director Jearlean John, who is also UDeCOTT chairman that payments will be made. “Any decision where our members bills are paid, we welcome that,” he said.


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