The government and the construction industry have agreed to settle $676 million in outstanding debt.
Emile Elias, who represents the TT Contractors’ Association on the Prime Ministerial committee on the construction industry, told Newsday. “We’ve gone past claims. These are certified and approved debts,” he said. TTCA members have been submitting their claims for review, he said, and despite the $4 billion figure “floating in the public mind,” he said, among those who have agreed to participate in the process, the figure came up to $676 million.
“We were tasked with asking our members who could demonstrate approved figures and those are the figures submitted so far. All I can say is we have not been able to find the $4 billion.. The members who may have alleged that is owed decided not to participate in this process which would be subject to scrutiny first by me reviewing it and then, of course, the state agencies who have to respond,” he said.
President of the TTCA, Ramlogan Roopnarinesingh, acknowledged the settlement but specified that while that $676 million was owed to members, according to the association’s accounts committee, $4 billion was the estimated figure owed to the entire industry, not just the TTCA.
Elias said the TTCA has agreed “in principle” to accept government bonds as their payment.
Bonds can be used as a form of security when seeking financing.
“We think there is a market for bonds, as you saw with the National Investment Fund. (This was) the government doesn’t have to generate cash flow to meet its agreed and reconciled debts,” he said
If all goes well, Elias said he hoped there would be a $676 million injection into the local construction sector with the 60 to 90 days.