Local contractors have been promised “a slice of the cake” as far as projects are concerned.
“As far as this government is concerned, empowerment of local contractors is our priority and we will continue to ensure that whatever projects we are doing in Dominica the local contractors, the local service providers will have a slice of the cake and we are very firm on this,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit gave this guarantee during his weekly talk show recently.
He said the homes that were recently built in Wesley were all constructed by local contractors and pointed to the further utilization of local contractors in the construction of health centres.
Skerrit continued, “We are about to start some housing intervention in several communities. We will be using 74 local contractors to build homes. I’m not talking about the roads yet, I’m not talking about the drainage yet.”
According to the Prime Minister, the vast majority of local contractors receive government contracts.
“We started the geothermal project and the first person who has gotten a contract is a local contractor. ACE Engineering, but people don’t say these things. They remain quiet and all you hear is local contractors are not getting this, local contractors are not getting that,” Skerrit remarked. “But if we were to be honest to ourselves in Dominica, the reality is the vast majority of people get the contracts.”
He explained that in the contract world there are certain conditionalities.
“If you are going to get a contract for $80,000, you must be able to put a performance bond, either cash or financial instrument at a designated bank, because that’s how the international contracts operate and sometimes our local contractors do not qualify for this,” Skerrit stated.
He said for example under the housing projects to be done in communities including Soufriere, Woodford Hill, Paix Bouche, Canefield, Eggleston and Scottshead, in order to ensure that local contractors from these communities qualified, the contracts had to be broken down into parts, “because one may not have the financial means to put a bond into the bank to build 20 homes or 16 homes.”
“We are able to empower contractors through that means,” he said. “That’s how we are going to be doing it.”