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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