The leadership of Building Contractors has had separate meetings with some key Ministers of State over a number of concerns including the perennial delayed payments for works done.
The move is part of the efforts of the new leadership of the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana (ABCECG), to foster closer collaboration with key Ministries and other stakeholders, in order to sanitise the industry and drive its development.
The leadership of ABCECG led by its President, Mr. Prosper Yao Ledi met with the Minister of Education Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh with the GETFUND Administrator in attendance, the Minister of State in charge of Public Procurement Sarah Adwoa Safo who was represented by her Chief Director as well as the Minister for Works and Housing Samuel Atta Akyea. They also met with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations Ignatius Baffour-Awuah.
At the various engagements, the contractors complained about the adverse impact of the perennial delayed payments for works done, on their business and the entire economy and urged the Ministers to help end the practice. They also urged them to ensure that the GETFUND contractors were paid this month as was promised.
The contractors also called for a better streamlining of the tender process to make it fairer. They want the project sum for contracts to be disclosed immediately the tender is opened, so that the tenderers will know their fate. According to them the contract sum is most of the time not disclosed or disclosed very late keeping a lot of contractors in suspense. They also alleged that a number of public servants are covertly bidding for projects they themselves are supervising, leading to unfair competition. “If any public servant wants to bid, he or she should openly declare, instead of getting someone to front for them, it’s just not fair, Mr. Ledi complained”.
Another issue raised by the contractors was improper coordination between them and utility service providers who lay cables and pipes. The contractors argued that the absence of cooperation has resulted in many instances where laid cables or pipes would have to be dug out for construction to take place. They therefore called on the Sector Minister to lead that collaboration between them and the utility service providers, to resolve the challenge.
Other issues raised include the perceived favouritism given to foreign contractors over their Ghanaian counterparts and the need for public procurement to be used as a tool to drive local content and participation. Related to these, is the fact that though some foreign contractors belong to the various local associations, several of them do not. The indigenous contractors therefore want it to be imperative for all foreign contractors to register with any of the local associations before they are able to do business in the country. These are issues the contractors believe can tackled if a regulatory authority is established for the construction industry.
The President of ABCECG indicated that the association was taking steps to attract investors who can work with indigenous contractors to take on major projects. He therefore urged the government to allocate a quota of the intended infrastructure projects in Senior High Schools and other institutions to them, as their members are in good stead to partner investors to pre-finance these projects.
The various Ministers assured the contractors of government’s commitment to address their challenges and urged them to exercise patience as steps are taken to fix the challenges. The Minister of Education, assured them of the resolve to pay GETFUND contractors using a loan facility that parliament is expected to approve at its current siting.
On the issue of perceived bias towards foreign contractors, the Ministers advised the Association to rather look at possible collaborations with foreign contractors and seek to take on projects together, arguing that government will not discriminate against indigenous contractors but can also not shut its doors to foreign firms seeking to do business in Ghana.
The contractors were grateful to the various Ministers for granting them audience. They also commended government for efforts being made to support the growth of the construction industry. Mr. Ledi particularly cited the decision to empower the GETFUND to borrow on its own balance sheet in order to pay contractors. He said the initiative was laudable and urged government to rollout similar initiatives to support the industry. He said the Association was committed to working closely with government to ensure a better developed and sanitised construction industry in Ghana.