Gov’t engages construction stakeholders on challenges

-as country prepares for construction boom in 2021

The Government is engaging stakeholders in the construction industry to get a sense of the state of readiness and challenges ahead of the expected boom in the sector.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh and Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond at the meeting

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh and Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond engaged private sector stakeholders earlier this week.

It was the second meeting with construction stakeholders.

Speaking to DPI after the meeting on Monday, Dr. Singh said they examined the expectations in both the public and private sector especially as preparations are being made for the upcoming budget.

“We wanted to get feedback from the private sector on market conditions as it relates to key construction materials, level of supply, level of competition, level of prices, anticipations with respect to price developments and so on,” Dr. Singh said.

Ministers Dr. Singh and Walrond engaged in discussions

The Minister said the information garnered was very useful and the Government would examine ways to have certain matters addressed.

“We also got a lot of feedback in terms of specific commodities, availability of sand, availability of stone, the production and distribution arrangements. We will continue to stay closely engaged because we want to ensure a steady and reliable supply of good construction materials at affordable prices,” Dr. Singh said.

He noted the Government’s concern that despite the removal of value-added tax (VAT) on certain locally produced construction items some persons were not complying with the measures.  

“We got some feedback that suggest some dealers and vendors are still charging VAT on items that we zero-rated and that information was very valuable to us because this is totally unacceptable to the extent that we have zero-rated items.

As soon as the law comes into force, zero rating a particular item for VAT purposes … suppliers are expected to apply the zero rate with immediate effect, and to the extent that suppliers are still charging VAT on items that have been zero-rated from a specific time, that’s against the law,” Dr. Singh said.

Minister Walrond expressed similar concerns.

We expected prices for those construction materials to decrease, and there has been some decrease in the locally produced materials but there has also been a significant increase in the price for imported materials like steel,” she said. 

A section of the meeting

However, Dr. Singh acknowledged that there are some external issues affecting prices for construction materials locally.  

“There are also some world market developments that are outside of our control, so for example, we are aware that there is an issue with some world market prices, like world market for steel. We are aware that there is an issue with the cost of freight coming into Guyana and it was good to have an engagement with the private sector on this development to understand how they are affecting them,” he said.

Dr. Singh said the Government remains committed to working closely with the private sector to ensure that good quality building materials are available as Guyana is poised to experience a boom in construction this year.

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