Industry strong, says Jenkins

Charlie Jenkins (left) with Vilimone Nailotei, Marika Vuniyaya and George Eysselein after the Official opening of the 15th Pacific Islands Tax Administrators Association (PITAA) Heads meeting at Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

THE construction industry is strong but it’s not booming, says Construction Industry Council president Gordon Jenkins.

Speaking at the 2018 Fiji Australia Business Forum last Friday, he said while the sector was healthy, there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed.

“The word boom means there is no labour and there are no contractors — we don’t have anything like that — if you want to get something done, you can get it done,” he said while addressing about 150 business and finance executives at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay.

“We do have a problem, we are very short on skilled labour in Fiji and a number of building contractors are importing skilled people from offshore — mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia — because they are a lot cheaper than our guys but I don’t know whether they’re any good,” he said.

“Another thing about construction in Fiji, it is an industry that is based on importation. “About 80 per cent of anything that goes into any building anywhere is imported.

“All we really have as a natural product is timber and aggregates.

“We will never have steel because we don’t have a steel mill, we do roll and make reinforcing but that’s only assembling and not manufacturing it.”

Mr Jenkins said a conference held at the Warwick Resort in June this year attracted 370 participants from across the industry.

He said many had raised concerns about payment issues, building standards and training during the forum.

Mr Jenkins added that the CIC now had a CEO and established an office and would look to address the issues and concerns raised during the June conference.

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