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Engineers looking forward to WTO accession

Engineers in The Bahamas are looking forward to the rules the World Trade Organization (WTO) will bring to their profession, which is already wide-open to foreign participation, Bahamas Society of Engineers President Quentin Knowles said yesterday.

Knowles, who was a panelist at the Bahamas Business Outlook at Baha Mar, said, at the risk of being branded a “heretic”, he looks forward to the trade rules that will come along with The Bahamas’ accession to the WTO.

He explained that presently foreign engineers can work in The Bahamas with minimal red tape.

“Our profession is wide-open,” said Knowles.

“Anybody anywhere can do engineering work in this country. We welcome it (accession) to a certain degree, because at least you will have rules. The World Trade Organization has trade rules. Right now in the local engineering and architectural fields, there are no rules. So at least we’ll have that to fall back on. If we find there are abuses taking place, we have somewhere we can appeal.”

Local architects and engineers have been appealing to various governments for years to help them participate more in foreign direct investment projects. The investors in those projects often bring in their own architects and engineers, but the local professionals want to see that shift dramatically or change altogether.

The group Bahamas Engineers, Architects and Allied Professionals (BEAAP) has met with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) to see how professionals in the construction sector can be a part of the government’s processes when bringing foreign investment projects to the country.

BEAAP Secretary Marcus Laing said recently that construction is the biggest indicator of how the economy is doing, but he lamented that much of the big ticket construction business in The Bahamas has always been foreign-directed.

BEAAP has said before that it wants to stamp out the practice of industry professionals simply acting as frontmen for foreign firms that come in and carry out all the work.

“A lot of it is enforcement of laws that exist already, and getting ahead of projects as they come in so that local architects, engineers, surveyors and other professionals can actually get in and get the work at an equitable level,” Laing said.

 

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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