Contractors impatient for Builders Board

| 15/08/2008

(CNS): The Cayman Contractors Association (CCA) has received increasing input from contractors that they are impatient to get registration in place for a Builders Board, a key provision of the Builders Law passed in March 2007, and has been working with government accordingly. “Creating an entirely new Board is a slow process,” said CCA President Steve Hawley (left) on behalf of the Association.

“A Chair must be found who is regarded by all as being responsible, impartial, organized, good at understanding Law and prepared to work hard for the sake of the community. That’s a lot to ask and such individuals are invariably very busy people. It can take months to secure a Chair. After his appointment, the Chair works with government to fill the positions of the other Board members. Both the CCA and the Builders Bill Committee have offered to assist in this. Both bodies have already offered lists of recommendations and alternates.”

The CCA has asked government to resolve the appointment of the Chair by September, Hawley said. “If we all work together on appointing the other members, we may be able to create a Board in as little as a month. It’s important to bear in mind that the first choice for each position may well be too busy and even if he is prepared to consider it, he may need some time to make up his mind. In the meantime, an alternate cannot be pursued. It is easy for the process to take quite an extended period of time, if it is not followed up on diligently.”

As to the initial functions of the Board, Hawley said that, with an entirely new Board, members could not rely on the previous year’s members to educate them as they go along. Therefore, the first task would be to educate the entire Board in the Law.

“The Builders Board Committee has, thankfully, offered to educate them. It will take several sessions for the new Board to understand the intent of each and every clause in the law, in addition to its actual wording,” he noted. In addition, the Board will need to create all the forms to be used. Hawley said the Committee had drafted forms that the Board might consider, and that hopefully, these would be adequate. The Board would also have to offer the approved forms for distribution to potential applicants, he said.

“Following distribution, it may take the average contractor two to three months to secure all the relevant references and other paperwork. Only then will he be ready to make his application. This means that no applicant will actually be approved by January first, 2009. If the Board is appointed, say, in October, we may see the review of the first applications in March,” Hawley pointed out.

The CCA has been advised by government that the Board has not been appointed as yet because they were waiting until they could secure premises for the Builders Board before dealing with the other needs. “Although this has taken a long time, apparently premises are now secured and the Board will soon be appointed,” he said.

“Hurricane Ivan demonstrated that if we, as contractors, are performing work that is beyond our knowledge, beyond our financial or infrastructural capability, or if we are otherwise irresponsible, the public suffers. Many people lost their life savings to irresponsible builders following Ivan. The Builders law exists to protect the consumer. Without this Law in place, if we have another Ivan, the public will be victimized once again,” Hawley explained.

“As it is written, it is a tough law, but a fairone. It has taken into account all the concerns of all parties. It is balanced and, as such, has received the praise of the construction industry and the public alike. This is a direct result of the present government partnering with the private sector in the drafting stage. The method of drafting this law is a model for responsible future legislation,” he said.

The CCA is expecting that there will be those who will apply for licenses for which they are not qualified at the level they are seeking. “If the Board is a just one, they will award the license that is appropriate to the experience, finances and infrastructure of the company in question.” He said some applicants would be disappointed and some might even be angry that they did not get whatever they wanted.

“Again, if the Board is a just one, it will offer advice to applicants as to how they can advance their position in the future. The Board should only restrict contractors as much as necessary for the public good. It should then exist to encourage young, up-and-coming Caymanians in the industry to advance when they have proven they are ready.”

While Hawley said he generally presents the collective view of the CCA, on a personal note he said the Builders Bill Committee was the best committee he had ever served on.

“Each member of the committee dedicated himself to the task at hand. Each was impartial and no member brought a personal agenda to the committee. It was particularly rewarding that all members were so conscientious with regard to smaller builders, for whom the business world is usually new and intimidating. The committee took a great deal of time to provide a law that would be encouraging to young Caymanian entrepreneurs,” Hawley said.

The Builders Law will come into force on a date set by Order of the Governor, and different dates may be appointed for the coming into force of various provisions of the law.

 

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Four years since the law was passed and no board?!?

    Don’t make me laugh.

     

  2. Caymanians for good governance says:

     When Steve Hawley stops trying to be chairman of this board and when the Government modifies this law to be more responsive to the needs of the small Caymanian contractor only then can we talk about getting the licensing process moving again.