With the date for the 2018 Budget presentation to be announced this week, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan has cautioned the ministry may not receive the same amount it was allocated in the 2017 fiscal package.
The Ministry of Works and Transport received $2.087 billion in last year’s budget. “Given the challenges with finance in the country, I don’t expect us to get the same figure that we got last year,” Sinanan said. “The country is in a financial, I don’t want to use the word crisis, but we do have serious financial constraints and what we have to do is continue to do more with less,” he said after a tour of the Fyzabad constituency yesterday.
However, Sinanan observed there was a bright side to the downturn as there was now “serious competition” between local contractors as they vied for work in the construction sector.
“We do have serious competition among the contractors and we are seeing a significant reduction in price and we are happy for that because the cuts in the budget, what we see happening is the contractors themselves have recognised that and the prices we are getting is significantly less than what we would have gotten in the past.”
He also noted the constituency tours were used to gauge the type of work needed in the various constituencies. “The idea is with limited funding to try to bring relief in the most critical areas, yes this tour would help us programming the budget going forward, it also gives us an idea of emergency work that has to be done even with the challenges we have with funding.”
And with road ownership often a matter of contention among local bodies, Sinanan said a roads authority could be the solution to this problem.
“There was talk about a roads authority, I think somewhere in the future we have to revisit that because this is one country and you have one government in charge of the country and I don’t like the idea of when we go out, they keep saying well this is not my road and that is your road because we have to fix the road,” he said. “I don’t like the excuse that this is my road and that is your road and I fixing mine and you not fixing yours, you don’t have funding and we have to find a way to bring comfort to the citizens in this country so I am really forward when all the roads in this country could fall under one authority.” He once again reiterated that flooding could be directly linked to property developers blocking water course and backfilling lands without the proper authority.
“We see what is happing now with the weather pattern, we have a hurricane which is probably the most devastating hurricane in the Caribbean ever and then we had an earthquake to the magnitude we are not accustomed to so with the weather pattern and the climate change, we have to get serious in this country as to how we develop and our building codes,” he said.
“What we are seeing with the weather pattern, it is only a matter of time before something serious hit us and we have to try to be a lot more prepared.”