Several overseas firms descend on building expo
– govt assures that mortgage lending stable
Oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago says that it is moving for closer ties with Guyana and has established a special body to increase trade relations.
The announcement was made last night by visiting Trade Minister of that country, Stephen Cadiz, as Guyana launched its second International Building Expo at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.
Cadiz is part of a 65-odd Trinidad and Tobago delegation here for the show which is designed to link the players in the industry. Of the 105 booths at the stadium, 15 were from overseas.
The event, which saw BK International winning the first ever President’s Award for Innovation in the Construction Industry, is expected to end tomorrow.
BK International created a trowel-wood, a product made from sawdust and epoxy. That is the rage for new homeowners who want an alternative to the traditional paint. The award was geared to spur innovative products for the building sector.
Other entries include a pre-fabricated model home from Bulkan Timber Works Inc and compressed concrete block from IAST.
According Ramesh Dookhoo, Chairman of the Private Sector, booth holders spent on average of $2M and up to prepare for the show, a clear indication of the significance of the housing sector.
With the sector last year contributing 10% to the local gross domestic product, mortgage rose more than $6B last year over 2009 with 84,000 house lots distributed since 1994.
Government now has 500 applications in for expansions and new construction in the city with revolving restaurants and multi-storeyed buildings.
The T&T Trade Minister, who was accompanied by housing officials, in lauding the initiative, noted the role by government in “ creating the enabling environment”.
He admitted that his country is striving to do better in making it easier to foreign companies to do business, after being rated low.
However, he was enthused with the US$188M trade that Guyana and T&T conducted in 2009.
He also announced that his country has started a program to move away from its oil and gas dependence.
According to Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali, the country has “exciting” new opportunities opening up with plans in stream for ICT and a deep water harbor project.
However, the number of applications for developments in the capital city may force government to revamp its building codes, admitted Ali.
Since 2006, some 17,000 house lots were distributed.
The Minister also dispelled doubts that the housing drive was creating a “housing bubble” and noted that the credit/deposit ratio was around 40 per cent, nothing to lose sleep over.
He also believed that the last expo was beneficial. It led to $9.5B being spent in the construction industry alone last year.
Meanwhile, President Bharrat Jagdeo, in making his case for Guyana’s own diversification of its economy, lauded T&T for starting its move away from its dependence on oil and gas.
Not making the change now could lead to the possibility of countries losing significant welfare because of a lack of foresight, he warned.
While the traditional sectors including rice, sugar and bauxite and mining will continue to play significant roles, new opportunities are opening up.
Guyana still has a way to go and while outsiders should not look at the country as perfect, it should be seen as resilient.
Jagdeo was confident that the growing private sector is ready for an explosion.
One of these areas include the food industry which could help to meet the regional market which imports over US$3B annually.
With the possibility of oil being found as early as next month, Guyana is also looking at eco-tourism and a recent deal with Norway for cash in exchange for protection of the country’s forests, also spell further possibilities, the Head of State said.
Soon, a government programme to equip 90,000 families with laptops, will become a reality, a further testimony of the administration’s commitment to Guyanese.
The expo, for the second year running, includes several hardware supplies companies, banks, insurance companies, and construction firms.
The Ministry of Housing which also has a booth will be conducting One Stop Shop exercises today and tomorrow to persons applying for house lots.
Several companies, including those involved in cement production and paint, will be giving live demonstrations.
The expo was held under the theme, “Bridging The Gap, Transforming Guyana”.