OECS holds special meeting on construction sector
April 3, 2009
OECS holds special meeting on construction sector

St. Vincent and the Grenadines hosted the first-ever special Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) meeting on the region’s construction sector last week Thursday, 19 March, 2009.{{more}}

The meeting, which was held at the Methodist Church Hall, Grenville Street, was aimed at identifying the problems within the region’s construction sector, suggest solutions to fix them and discover ways to improve its efficiency in the long term.

Representative of the Caribbean Development Bank, Andrew Dupigny, outlined his organisation’s commitment to promoting economic growth and integration within the region, making mention of past loans and grants which were granted by the Bank for the purposes of developing economic infrastructure. The Bank, according to Dupigny, is, therefore, eager to use both financial and human resources to assist OECS member countries in developing an effective construction sector which is able to support economic recovery in these difficult times.

In his remarks, Dr Garth Nicholls of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank suggested tapping into what he called existing but undrawn sources of financial assistance to help generate liquidity within the sector, mentioning the European Union as one such source. Nicholls also said the importance of this sector is realised in statistical data, which suggests a growth in the construction sector positively impacts overall Gross Domestic Product in the region. He further contended the sector is an important source of employment in the region.

Director of the Economic Affairs Division of the OECS Secretariat, Randolph Cato, reiterated the value of the construction sector in OECS countries, mentioning that demands for social housing remains high. As such, he contends, governments must address those demands which in turn would lead to further construction and infrastructure development.

Prime Ralph Gonsalves stated that construction traditionally features less on a government’s agenda during high levels of economic success. The reverse, he said, was true during an economic downturn such as the current global economic crisis. Gonsalves expressed hope the conference would lead to a change in that attitude which he further stated would allow construction to attain its rightful place higher up on the OECS development ladder.

The conference included persons from both the private and public sectors. Notable Vincentian participants included Minister of Transport and Works, Clayton Burgin, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Andreas Wickham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade, Sir Louis Straker, Managing Director of Karib Cable, Kelly Glass, and Managing Director of Edric Lewis Associates, Edric Lewis.

Countries represented at the meeting included Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Grenada, St. Lucia, along with host country St Vincent and the Grenadines.(SC)