Sat | Oct 21, 2017

'Chinese hogging construction sector not good'

Published:Friday | June 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke

President of the Incorporated Masterbuiders Association Humphrey Taylor says that the construction industry is in a state of ill-health because of the Chinese hogging the industry.

He said that too many of the big jobs have gone the way of the Chinese and that the practice is now reflecting badly on local construction stakeholders, who have been left out in the cold, with major projects in the pipeline.

"As an industry, we are not all that healthy because most of the big jobs are done by the Chinese," Taylor said.

In response, he said that the association would be pressing for changes at the policy level as its members are demanding parity with their Chinese counterparts if they are to remain relevant in the discourse around national development.

"We understand the situation, but we are not giving up, and we are lobbying to get some policy changes from the Government so we can be part of the economic growth that we all wish for," Taylor noted.

He said that the announced $38 plus GCT increase in the cost for a bag of cement will have limited impact on the strength of the sector, describing it as manageable.

"Cement is only 10 per cent of the whole product, so the increase on it will not be that devastating to us. The devaluation that affects them affects all the other products because we import a lot of the products that go into a finished house," Taylor said.

"We will get a little blow, but it's something we will recover from. A $38 increase works out to an approximately three per cent increase, so that's manageable, but, of course, we are not happy with it, although it's something we expect will happen given all the other variables going on," said Taylor.

Yesterday, Carib Cement announced the increase, effective on Monday, June 26, and tapped the increase in fuel prices and the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar against benchmark international currencies as the reasons.

"Electricity and fuel costs form a large portion of Carib Cement's overhead costs, and increases in any of these negatively affect the company's ability to stabilise its input costs," said Sophia Lowe-Pinnock, corporate communication and public relations manager, adding that the adjustments had become necessary due to the increases experienced in operational costs that were greater than gains made.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com