CAB appeals to govt to work under containment

The Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB) on behalf of the construction firms in the country has made an appeal to the government to work under containment saying they have no other choice.

Though the government has supported the contractors in availing foreign workers to continue their works at site, the current lockdown has hampered the daily operation of work which they say would ultimately lead to poor work progress.

They claimed that the workers are demanding to return back due to the lockdown and it would be huge loss on them if they allow them to go because they have spent huge amounts to bring the workers into the country.

They also claimed that the procuring agencies are pressuring them to complete the work on time despite the lockdown and will levy Liquidity Damage (LD).

Given all the hardships, the Executive Director of CAB Tshering Yonten said that they have submitted a few recommendations to the government for their kind consideration. He said, “We have appealed that if the government can allow the firms to operate under containment mode as spending on workers without work progress may cause them huge losses.”

Even if government allows this, they will need the facilitation to transport the construction materials at site. Therefore, he said that they have requested government to consider and allow e-pass for one vehicle for each for the firms but, with SOPs and COVID-19 protocols in place.

He said that the government has always been considerate and helpful despite the burden of the pandemic on them and the country as a whole. “I appealed to the government through phone call and they initiated a zoom meeting whereby they suggested us to submit whatever issues the firms are facing and so we have submitted 12 pertinent issues,” he added.

During the pandemic many contractors had handed over their works despite difficulties but some procuring agencies had already deducted their LD of 10 percent fearing an objection from audit. So, the government may consider exempting LD for the works delayed during the pandemic.

The cost of construction materials and workers had doubled in the market due to the pandemic, he said, adding that for importation of workers the firms have spend at least Nu 38, 000 per worker and these costs are not incorporated into the initial projects.

Cost escalation was considered as per the notification issued by finance ministry for the balance works which are carried out after 24 August 2021; however, no procuring agencies had paid them till date.

“Thus, the government may carry out further studies for every project and pay the additional cost escalation for the projects,” he added.

They have also appealed to the government if they can pay the quarantine charges uniformly for all the government projects because as for now, some of the firms are paid the cost of quarantine whereas some are not.

He said, “Most of the procuring agencies refused to give time extensions as the budget lapses and no spillover is permitted by finance ministry. Thus, we request the government to accept the spillover if the works are not completed within the current financial year.”

They submitted that if the bids are few percent above the government estimate, it is retendered and thereby, the contractors request the government that if the bids is within 20 percent of the government estimate, the works may be awarded.

Some of the procuring agencies directly award the works to state owned contractors with 10 to 20 percent above the government estimates. Thus, they request to float open tender including the DHI companies, he further added.

“If the above are not considered by the government, most of the contractors may go bankrupt as they had mobilized and spent the fund from the overdraft facilities they have with the financial institutes.”

As CAB has a District Licensing Committee (DLC) in every Dzongkhag, they suggested the government to include them in district task force committee so that they are aware and can disseminate information on construction related issues.

Nevertheless, they are thankful to the government that they have immediately made the payment on pending bills which is a huge support for the firm during such time, he added.

Meanwhile, Minister of Work and Human Settlement Dorji Tshering said that its been just few days that they have approached the government with their recommendation which is why it would be too early to make a comment.

However, he said, “Going through their recommendations some are doable while some are not and we are hopeful that we can try to sort things out. Our team including the finance ministry are into it and we will come to a conclusion in a week’s time.”

Check Also

Growing forest fires impacting ecology and potential sustainable revenue generation

Reports from the Department of Forest and Park Services show that there is an increasing …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *