The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) is to tighten its knot on contractors and consultants to ensure that only competent and efficient ones are awarded contracts. The ministry has, therefore, commissioned a team to do an extensive evaluation of contractors and consultants in the area of efficiency, quick delivery of work and how competitive the construction companies are in the West African sub-region and beyond to be recognised in the performance rating and ranking scheme for contractors and consultants.
The initial exercise, which will take about two months to complete and which will be reviewed periodically, will result in an annual awards scheme for the construction sector to motivate contractors and consultants to give of their best.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, told the Daily Graphic after the launching of the awards scheme in Accra that the performance rating and ranking scheme for contractors and consultants would look for efficiency, quick delivery of work and how competitive the construction companies were in the West African sub-region and beyond.
The scheme is to enable the country's construction companies and consultants in the industry to deliver quality jobs in record time to give a boost to the country's use of the recent inflow of financial resources, such as the $750 million Eurobond money and HIPC funds.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said the new approach adopted by the ministry would ensure a systematic and sustainable development of the country's infrastructure.
It would also afford the ministry the opportunity to address concerns over poor performance, the inability to meet deadlines and poor delivery of work.
A civil engineer, Mr Kwesi Abbey Sam, is currently leading a team of experts to interview contractors and consultants on the field, as well as evaluate their past and present work to form the basis for the awards.
The awards, a fulfilment of a provision in the 2008 Budget, has come at a time when serious concerns have been raised about the quality of work by some contractors and consultants on major projects in the country.
“When it rains, you see our buildings, such as school blocks, collapsing or roofs being ripped off. How long do our roads last?” the Finance Minister quizzed, and said “there is the need for quality in our construction industry”.
He said the awards were also linked to the bigger picture of getting value for the $750 million Eurobond money and even achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“Once we are getting capital market money, we need people to execute the contracts faster. This is not like money from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the African Development Bank (AfDB) which takes more than three years to come in.
This one is quick money and those involved in the physical execution of work must deliver quality and efficiency in record time,” Mr Baah-Wiredu stated.
He said since the financing dynamics of the economy had changed with the country's entry into the capital market, “we must get the stakeholders working well and harder”, adding that there was the need to turn around the Eurobond proceeds about three to four fold.
The Finance Minister said records over the last 30 years showed that grants and concessionary loans always had inadequate sizes but the capital market was exact and quicker, saying there was the need to use it well.
The minister also announced a training package for men and women in the construction industry value chain.“There will be training for them to cover all the workers in the sector, drivers, machine and equipment operators, etc.
All along we don't recognise this class of people but they are all part of the team. They don't work perfunctorily but with skills,” he stated.
The Finance Ministry has indicated that the country needs about $6 billion or $350 million yearly to turn around its infrastructure, most of which have not seen any major rehabilitation for over 30 years.
“The need of the nation is infrastructure; we must take it seriously and those in that industry need to be recognised,” Mr Baah-Wiredu stated.
The Finance Minister further noted that the awards scheme would help the ministry to assess and rate the performance of contractors on each project awarded.
“It will help future evaluations and ensure that only competent contractors will be awarded contracts,” he added.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said the industry was fraught with problems and challenges, such as improper assessment of contractors with regard to plants and equipment, human resource and financial capacity, lack of standards and specifications, lack of research developments, hard work and co-operation from contractors and consultants, and expressed the hope that the scheme would bring about improvement in and the success of the industry.
In a presentation on improving the local construction industry, Mr Abbey Sam said the solution to the challenges faced by the contractors was effective training and financing.