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WASA wets businesses’ appetite with $5.5 billion
The Leon Agostini conference hall at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce headquarters in Westmoorings could offer standing room only to minutes-late arrivals yesterday morning when Water and Sewerage Authority officials delivered presentations at the event entitled, Business Opportunities in the Water and Sewerage Authority.
The largest room at the Chamber’s head office could only seat 200. The car park was full well before the scheduled 8 am start of the event and parking overflowed onto side streets of Westmoorings. About 300 business people turned out to hear presentations by WASA’s top officials on how it is going to spend $5.5 billion on works and professional services from 2012 through 2016.
“By the vast interest and attendance this morning by members of the business community, it is clear that despite the economic slowdown currently being experienced, there is certainly still a great appetite for business development in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Moonilal Lalchan Senior, vice president of the chamber. “We congratulate WASA on this initiative, which seeks to give a clearer picture to our members, the wider private sector and the public at large, of the contracting landscape within the Authority.
“Many of us may hear about contracting opportunities in WASA and think that it may only apply to persons who are working in the construction industry. However, WASA will speak more to you today on the various contracts the Authority offers in a wide range of areas.
“In fact, with over $5 billion projected to be spent in the next (five) years under the Authority’s Projects Programme, the Chamber is excited to learn more today about the variety of opportunities (in) which our local business people can take advantage.
“With the government being the largest awarder of business contracts, the Chamber has long been an advocate for a public procurement system that is much more transparent, competitive, and gives equal opportunity to our local business content. So we see our part in this open forum today as helping to push this new process of procurement along, and are happy to partner with the Authority in this regard.
Business people heard from Doodnath Bhola, WASA Director for Corporate Services yesterday morning that the procurement process would include the traditional tendering process but also, for the first time, feature an e-auction system. Referring to the unprecedented level of transparency in the procurement process, interim WASA CEO Dion Abdool said this is the first time this is being done. Gerard Yorke, WASA Director of Finance, said the payment process would be smooth and efficient. Ramchand Ramcharan, WASA Director for Programmes and Change Management offered details about specific business opportunities at WASA.
Delivering the welcome remarks at the breakfast meeting, Chamber VP Lalchan had said, “The Chamber is happy to see that the Authority has also included a presentation this morning on the payment process. I am certain that our Members are looking forward to that aspect of the programme as well. It is not unusual to hear of prime suppliers and sub contractors complaining of having to wait for lengthy periods of time before receiving payment from Government or Government agencies for works done, or, worse, not receiving payment at all.
Lalchan said he was pleased to see that there are several Small and Medium Enterprises in the audience today. “I say this because the Chamber has always espoused the greater need for our SMEs to truly be more involved and included in driving national economic development.”
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