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Sir Charles: Confidence returning

Amid ongoing gloom, some top officials in the local construction sector are reporting an increase in confidence in the Barbados economy.

On the heels of a less than favourable third quarter economic review from the Central Bank, at least two leading construction players told Barbados TODAY they were seeing some positives within that sector.

The increased confidence also comes at a time when the real estate market has been dealt a blow due to the lowering of prices and stalled projects.

Construction magnate Sir Charles Williams said that while the sector was on the rebound, the housing market was definitely experiencing a boom, especially in the St Philip area.

Sir Charles Williams

Sir Charles Williams

“You only have to look around at what has happened around Six Roads over the last 25 years and realize that it isn’t growing, it is booming,” he said, while pointing to several housing projects currently under construction in that eastern parish.

The C.O. Williams Construction Limited chairman opted not to comment directly on the recently released economic review.

However, when pressed he told Barbados TODAY he was not fully comfortable with what was currently taking place, as he suggested that better facilitation was needed on the part of the Government in order for more projects to get off the ground.

“If I [was] comfortable at 82 [years-old] I would retire and I would be home . . . . Government’s position is a facilitator for the private enterprise to employ people, earn foreign exchange and possibly make a dollar for those that put their money in it,”  Sir Charles said.

Meanwhile, managing director of Moorjani Caribbean (Barbados) Limited Richard Moorjani said although the improvements within the sector were not yet significant, there were definitely “signs of life” and the industry was “certainly better than it was last year this time”.

Moorjani specializes in the commercial aspect of the construction sector.

“The confidence level, in my opinion, is better today than it was six or eight months ago. However, there is still room for vast improvement,” he said.

“This year has certainly been busier than last year. [Right] through to the end of the year we will be quite busy and there are several very good prospects for the beginning of next year,” he added.

“What you see happening is that we have been in a bit of a holding pattern during the world financial crisis and a lot of developments that were planned were put on hold,” he noted.

However, he said: “The private sector had to get on with the business of business . . . and so they are moving on because unless you develop and innovate you are going to die.”

Contending that there was more work taking place in the private sector, he pointed out that a lot of the construction did not necessarily involve new projects, “but there is certainly a lot of remodelling, relocating, upgrading of product [and] upgrading of premises for many reasons”.

In relation to his company’s St Kitts and Nevis operation, Moorjani said that market was busier than that of Barbados due to the recent introduction of the economic by citizenship programme there which was fuelling the real estate investment market, as well as construction on the neighbouring island.

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