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Contractors seek Gov't intervention

BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor - special assignment browni@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 07, 2012    

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THE Jamaica Association of Contractors, Construction and Consultants (JACCC) yesterday called on the Government to intervene on their behalf, in light of recent disclosure that the re-registration of 81 grade one contractors was being held up by the National Contracts Commission (NCC).

A number of contractors from grades two to grade five were being similarly affected, the association said yesterday.

The delay, said the contractors, prohibit them from receiving Government contracts, pending the completion of the reregistration process, and yesterday called for a temporary system to be put in place which would see contractors being able to receive contracts valued at up to $5 million without registering with the NCC.

The contractors, a number of whom say they were being denied a livelihood, said the interim measure would allow them to put food on their tables until the issues can be resolved.

"Presently, you (a contractor) can only work up to $400,000 without having to be registered with the NCC...," said JACCC executive member, Lincoln Prince.

The contractors, at the same time, accused the NCC of instituting "draconian laws" which require them to produce a large volume of information each year if they are to be qualified to receive government work.

"We would prefer a database system where you go in and register and you update the information as needs be, because these rules and regulations are hindering us move than helping us," a female contractor told a JACCC press conference at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston yesterday.

She added: "We are going around in circles right now because no one will take responsibility for the difficulties the contractors are facing, and we are pleading to the Government to step in and help us because we are suffering and we are hungry and angry."

JACCC head, Percival LaTouche said he also wanted a number of contractors who have been delisted by the NCC reinstated.

"We want all the contractors who have been de-listed to be reinstated within 48 hours, so they can get on with their lives while the Office of the Contractor General and the NCC fight over who is in charge," LaTouche said.

He cited an example of a contractor who was first informed in October 2010 that the reregistration application was being cleared for processing. However, his application was more than one year old and required a new one to be submitted.

Months later, LaTouche said the NCC again wrote the to contractor, this time, informing him that (although) the application for registration with the NCC has been cleared for processing base on recent concern from the OCG, the processing of the registration has been put on hold.

The contractor, LaTouche said, was told that the NCC would not be able to provide him with a response until guidance was received from the solicitor general. "The contractor has not had any word since," he said.

As such, he said, the JACCC intends to send a letter to the Ministry of Finance regarding the regulation governing the NCC's registration of contractors.

The contractors, he said, have clearly outlined their grouses, one of which is that the procurement process be brought under the purview of that ministry. "The letter will be asking for an urgent meeting," LaTouche said.

Meanwhile, major building contractor YP Seaton, who is supporting the cause of the affected contractors, questioned why a contracting company should be required to fill out such large volume of paperwork every year just to be qualified as a contractor.

"I don't know any part of the world where this happens. If you need to have this requirement, it should be every three or five years and not every year," Seaton argued.

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