Talks aimed at getting architects, contractors and engineers (ACE) at the table with bureaucrats and foreign direct investors have stalled, Bahamas Society of Engineers President Quentin Knowles told Guardian Business yesterday.
At the end of 2018, Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Immigration Brent Symonette asked a Bahamas Engineers, Architects and Allied Professionals’ (BEAAP) stakeholder meeting how government could help to get them more involved in projects brought by foreign direct investors.
Knowles said there have been a few meetings since then, but none have brought ACE professionals closer to the first-stage negotiating table.
He said there may have been a feeling that those professionals were simply attempting to advertise their businesses.
While he admitted that securing contracts is always on the agenda, ACE professionals were also interested in helping to guide policy and give input, because their international competitors are often at the table with the foreign developers.
“Talks have stalled, but there are many other constraints that may not have been fully articulated to us,” Knowles said.
“We believe as a group that we have lot to offer in terms of helping to guide policy and give input to the people who guide FDI (foreign direct investment) projects directly.”
At the 2018 BEAAP meeting, Symonette explained that there is a delicate balancing act the government is required to do to attract investors and the professionals they bring with them to help to develop their ideas; and then in getting Bahamian firms in the mix once the approval process has begun.
Knowles said it is unfortunate that it takes some of these policy changes years to come into effect.
“We can be a lot more involved in FDI projects, and that requires early involvement,” he said.
“Lynden Pindling International Airport is a model of how to involve the local component early on.”
Knowles said involving the local industry in large, foreign-financed projects can help to expand the knowledge pool in the country.
“We want to be there early on so we can tap into the knowledge of these hotshots they bring in,” he said.