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Contractors still owed hundreds of millions | Local Business

The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) still owes contractors $588 million for outstanding work prior to 2015, HDC chairman Noel Garcia confirmed yesterday.

Of that sum, only $7 million is owed to small contractors, he said.

He told the Sunday Express the HDC hopes to pay off the small contractors by February 2021, from a fund it set up specially to meet arrears to them.

Garcia said the remaining sum is owed to bigger contractors and the HDC will honour its legal commitments to its contractors and service providers.

In July 2019, the HDC had quantified the debt owed to contractors at $698,516,843 after making 271 payments to contractors for the sum of $139,853,660 in June 2019.

Garcia explained that before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, the HDC had projected it would sell houses valued at $1.2 billion this year.

However, the State housing company has only managed to sell $300 million in houses so far in 2020.

“The problem is that HDC has $3.4 billion worth of homes that need to be sold,” he said,

Further, the HDC’s ability to earn revenue in 2020 was stymied by the moratorium on mortgages, which was one of the measures instituted by the Government to manage the fallout of the pandemic on the country’s most vulnerable people.

For now, the company is focused on converting and preparing its existing house stock, with many in various stages of completion.

Conversely, Garcia observed that the other State company he chairs, the Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) owes “nobody” except for variations and funds in contention.

According to the Central Bank’s July 2020 Economic Bulletin, the construction sector slowed in the first quarter of 2020, bought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The construction sector slowed, based on evidence of a

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‘Employee’ or ‘independent contractor’? DOL proposed definitions could save companies millions

A new U.S. Department of Labor proposal aimed at clarifying whether workers should be classified as “employees” or “independent contractors” could have a major impact on how companies do business and pay their workers – although there are a number of “ifs” associated with the proposition.

“The Department’s proposal aims to bring clarity and consistency to the determination of who’s an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA),” said Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Once finalized, it will make it easier to identify employees covered by the Act, while respecting the decision other workers make to pursue the freedom and entrepreneurialism associated with being an independent contractor.”

“The rule we proposed today continues our work to simplify the compliance landscape for businesses and to improve conditions for workers,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “The Department believes that streamlining and clarifying the test to identify independent contractors will reduce worker misclassification, reduce litigation, increase efficiency, and increase job satisfaction and flexibility.”

Announced on Sept. 22, the DOL’s proposed rule would:

  • Adopt an “economic reality” test to determine a worker’s status as an FLSA employee or an independent contractor. The test considers whether a worker is in business for himself or herself (independent contractor) or is economically dependent on a putative employer for work (employee)
  • Identify and explain two “core factors” — specifically the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work, and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment. Those factors help determine if a worker is economically dependent on someone else’s business or is in business for himself or herself;
  • Identify three other factors that may serve as additional guideposts in the analysis: the amount of skill required for the work; the degree of permanence of the working
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Nova Scotia company uses millions of plastic bottles to build homes, decks

Nova Scotia company uses millions of plastic bottles to build homes, decks
Nova Scotia company uses millions of plastic bottles to build homes, decks

Nova Scotia is no stranger to gale-force winds, intense storms and even the occasional hurricane. Newly constructed homes in this province must be able to withstand harsh conditions, and the sustainable buildings constructed by JD Composites are proving that they can stand formidable against these harsh local conditions.

The company, which was founded in the Sainte-Marie’s Bay area by Joel German and David Saulnier, builds homes, decks, sheds and other structures using their patented technology made from recycled plastic bottles. Their structural insulated panels (SIPs) consist of Armacell ArmaForm, which is 100 per cent made of recycled plastic bottles that are sourced from an Armacell facility in Brampton, Ontario.

Armacell’s polyethylene terephthalate (PET) technology creates foam products from recycled plastic bottles by crushing them into flakes that then undergo inhouse granulation and extrusion foaming processes. In addition to being used in JC Composites’ SIPs, Armacell ArmaForm is used in 100,000 wind turbine blades, the CRH3A high-speed train in Western China, and in five gilded domes of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris, France.

Between 15,000 to 45,000 plastic bottles are used to create small sheds and decks, while homes can use 500,000 to 750,000. The variety of uses is impressive, but naturally many wonder how material made of recycled plastic bottles compares to conventional materials.

eco-house credit: JD Composites
eco-house credit: JD Composites

JD Composites used over 600,000 plastic bottles to build this Eco-House in Nova Scotia with their patented panels. Credit: JD Composites

JC Composites states that typical Canadian homes use insulation with an R-20 rating, but this value is often reduced to R-13 because wooden studs create a thermal break in the insulation. The PET plastic in SIPs do not have any thermal breaks, which result in a continuous R-30

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Outrage follows as Pentagon funnels millions meant for COVID supplies to private defense contractors

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump tours a Honeywell International Inc. factory producing N95 masks during his first trip since widespread COVID-19 related lockdowns went into effect May 5, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Instead of adhering to congressional intent by building up the nation’s inadequate supply of N95 masks and other equipment to combat the Covid-19 crisis, the Pentagon has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in appropriated taxpayer funds to private defense contractors for drone technology, jet engine parts, Army uniform material, body armor, and other purposes not directly related to the pandemic.

As the Washington Post reported Tuesday morning, the Department of Defense—headed by former Raytheon lobbyist Mark Esper—”began reshaping how it would award the money” just weeks after Congress in March approved a $1 billion fund under the Defense Production Act to help the nation “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”

“The Trump administration has done little to limit the defense firms from accessing multiple bailout funds at once and is not requiring the companies to refrain from layoffs as a condition of receiving the awards,” the Post noted. “Some defense contractors were given the Pentagon money even though they had already dipped into another pot of bailout funds, the Paycheck Protection Program.”

As the U.S. still faces major shortages of testing supplies and N95 masks six months into the pandemic, the Post reported that the Pentagon has used congressionally approved funds to dish out $183 million to luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce and other companies to help “maintain the shipbuilding industry,” tens of millions for “drone and space surveillance technology,” and $80 million to “a Kansas aircraft parts business.”

A subsidiary of Rolls-Royce also received $22 million from the Pentagon “to upgrade a Mississippi plant,” according to the Post.

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