China has been called upon to continue to assist countries with their reconstruction efforts following Hurricanes Maria and Irma but to do so at a low cost to the islands.
Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica in September 2017 leaving the island in rumbles.
The Peoples Republic of China has assisted Dominica and other islands in several areas.
But Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Housing, Land and Urban Renewal, Maria Browne believes more can be done.
Browne was speaking at the 10thInternational Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum held in Macao, People’s Republic of China over the weekend.
“We urge you to devise ways in which we can upgrade our technical and managerial capacities in the construction industry through training methods. We also urge you to provide expertise in the use of non-waste and clean technologies and assist us in the provision of educational opportunities that will increase builder knowledge of available sustainable technologies,” she stated.
Minister Browne pointed out that embarking on a programme of sustainable development is a costly venture with numerous challenges. She outlined that it requires consistent flow of financial resources to address increased costs for the steps needed to tackle environmental concerns and to accelerate sustainability.
“The transforming of our economy to a green economy is paramount to my administration, however we depend on our partner governments and institutions represented here to recognize that the challenges we face in transitioning to sustainable development are great. As a small developing nation, it is our hope that conferences like these can provide guidance for us to adopt policies and technologies to enable our construction sector to not only meet our development goals, but to ensure that little or no harm comes to the environment or to human health,” Minister Browne said.
In calling for collaboration, Minister Maria Browne said that the end result must be affordable materials for construction, significantly low interest rates on loans for construction development, utilization of more local labour and the utilization of resources with minimal impact to the environment.
The Housing Minister was also quick to point out to the hundreds in attendance at the forum, that the Gaston Browne administration was doing its part in achieving sustainable development.
“On embarking on our urban renewal and development programme, we have implemented a number of measures that mitigates against damage to our environment and accelerates our green agenda,” she said.
She listed some of these measures as increasing labour-intensive construction and maintenance technologies which generate employment in the construction sector; providing tax exemptions on building materials making them affordable for persons who are in need of low income housing; decreasing the rates of interest on loans provided for low income families; and enforcing standards and other measure which promote increased use of energy-efficient designs.