A Significant Growth Industry

The Unity Labour Party Manifesto 2015
Table of Contents

Historically, some ill-informed economists and policy-makers have tended to sneer at the construction industry as a “non-trading” sector as though its importance is entirely episodic to the economy. In the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other small Caribbean economies, this is a profound misreading of the centrality of the construction sector in providing an economic stimulus, job creation, and production linkages. The private sector, including the financial institutions, the credit unions, and the state sector through the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) drive the construction industry in housing, hotels, and the physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and government buildings. Foreign direct investment, remittances from abroad, external grants or soft loans to government, provide substantial capital for the construction industry.

The ULP government has had a history of being quite supportive of the construction industry in a host of practical ways such as: 100 percent mortgage programmes for public servants; enhanced tax relief for companies involved in housing construction; the massive state-directed housing programme; a progressive land policy; efficacious physical planning laws and guidelines; facilitating ever more training in the building trades and professions; and executing a huge Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) focussed on construction, way in excess of that of any government hitherto.

In the next five years the ULP has a massive PSIP to implement, including: Negotiated and available resources (grants and soft-loans) immediately at hand amounting to over EC $400 million (mainly from European Union, World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank, Taiwan, Mexico, Kuwait/Saudi Arabia/OPEC, ALBA/Venezuela) to apply to roads, bridges, river defences, sea defences; housing development through the government and HLDC amounting to almost $10 million annually; huge investments by VINLEC, CWSA, National Properties, NIS (real estate development with GECCU); the start-up of the construction of the modern city at Arnos Vale, the relocation and modernisation of Port Kingstown and the Cruise Ship Pier and Terminal building; and the redevelopment of Kingstown. All these public sector projects (some with public-private partnership) amount to in excess of EC $1.5 billion dollars.

Further, massive private sector construction is already underway or will commence shortly in hotel/resort development on St. Vincent, Bequia, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, and on-going in Mustique.  All this is in addition to private housing construction. More private sector investment is slated, too, in quarrying. 

Truly, extraordinary and diversified construction is ahead.  Moreover, important legacies of the construction of the Argyle International Airport are: Top-of-the-line stone-crushing facilities, the asphalt and concrete batching plants, an array of heavy-duty equipment, and skilled technicians and professionals in the field of construction. SVG is poised for the greatest construction boom in living memory!

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