President of the T&T Contractors Association (TTCA) Mikey Joseph says in the last ten to 15 years the country has lost "a lot of money" because of weak procurement legislation.
"We have come a long way in having procurement legislation...it's not ideally what we want but it's something that is much better than what we had, and if implemented, could save us a lot of money," he said
Noting that there has been proclamation and partial assent of some areas of the Public Procurement and Disposal Property Act, 2015, Joseph called on Government to move speedily to appoint a procurement regulator.
The TTCA president was one of four speakers at a post budget forum hosted by the Department of Economics, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, on Thursday evening. Other speakers at the two-hour forum chaired by economics lecturer Dr Daren Conrad at the Daaga Auditorium were senior lecturer Dr Roger Hosein, lecturer Dr Anthony Birchwood and director of tax at KPMG Nicole Joseph.
Joseph said the most effective way to get an economy going was to build and that building demanded professionals, manufacturing, financial services and skilled and unskilled labour.
"It is our view, though, that the Finance Minister did not fully embrace the opportunities to send a stronger message to the nation of the need for us to be frugal in our financial affairs," he said.
Joseph said while the TTCA believed Government's signal to continue the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway was a good one, there is some degree of uncertainty since the current contractor on the construction firm OAS Construtora–is facing bankruptcy proceedings in Brazil.
"There is some information that suggests some contingency measures have been put in place to deal with this but it is going to result in a delay in certain areas of the highway. We still remain optimistic that this project is good for the further development of the country, so it is something that we support," he said.
He added that while some of projects announced by Finance Minister Colm Imbert seemed like a lot they were in conceptual stages and most of them will not happen. He listed some as the Curepe Interchange, Princes Town to Mayaro Highway and Valencia to Toco upgrade.
"Those projects are probably going to be about three or four years down the line."