The private sector and other entities working in tandem with government must provide innovative solutions to help rebuild the construction industry.
This was a key point made today as Permanent Secretary, Patrick McCaskie, spoke on behalf of the Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, at the inaugural Sky Mall Builders and Homeowners’ Showcase, at Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall.
It was held by Sky Mall, in association with Williams Industries Inc. under the theme Always Be Prepared.
While presenting figures to highlight why collaboration was necessary, Mr. McCaskie said national statistics during the last nine years showed the contribution of the construction sector to GDP had on average been 6.4 per cent, equivalent to approximately BDS $462 million, when compared to BDS $612 million, in 2006.
Elaborating further, he said: “It is estimated that during the first quarter of 2019, some 11,200 persons were employed in the construction, mining and quarry sector. This figure is a clear indication that employment in the sector has declined when compared to the 14,600 persons that were employed in 2006; the 13,300 in 2017; and the 12,300 in 2018.”
The Permanent Secretary also explained that these indicators suggested there was an urgent need for various stakeholders, including the private sector, to work closely with government to provide an innovative solution to rebuilding the construction sector, for the benefit of the economy.
He stated: “As a matter of fact, let me remind you that construction activities affect nearly every aspect of the economy and remain among its major growth drivers, thus rendering it vital to the continued development of the Barbadian economy.
“Further, it must be noted that for construction to ably perform this role, there is need to provide information on its economic value, and its place in the overall economy therefore needs to be put in proper perspective.”
The official also stated that if greater value for money was to accrue to consumers of construction services on the island and the business of construction, it would require urgent attention to enact the requisite legislative framework for Barbados’ Building Code, the latest edition of which was published in 2013.
“To my mind this will allow for the type of inspection regime to be put in place that would contribute to mitigating the implementation challenges often seen at site level, as well as for greater compliance to be the hallmark of practitioners within the industry,” he noted.
Mr. McCaskie stressed that this mattered to commerce and economic development, as there was a close correlation between the need for standards-upgradation and the mitigation of the risks of loss or damage to residential and commercial properties as a result of natural disasters.
He acknowledged that the ministry would continue its support to the building and homeowners sector through relevant policy reform to improve the plight of the islands’ small businesses and the wider consuming public.
He noted that the ministry was in the process of developing a community cluster strategy to allow businesses with forward or backward linkages to participate in a collaborative relationship to deliver cost-effective services, and was also working on a National Vending Policy to transform the way vending was conducted in Barbados.
“The small business sector remains on good footing, and in the near future another suite of initiatives will be rolled out within the context of the Small Business Development Centre framework, which can only be described as bold and imaginative,” the Permanent Secretary said.