Construction industry says civil servants lack initiative, job commitment

Thursday, July 23, 2009
Issue 771, Page 3
Word count: 628
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The local construction industry yesterday told Chief Executive candidate Fernando Chui Sai On that public works departments had low levels of job commitment and initiative since the Ao Man Long’s kickback case occurred.

Mr Chui met with the construction sector at the World Trade Centre in a forum organised by five organisations including the Macao Association of Building Contractors and Developers (ACCEFPM), Macau Construction Association and the Macau Institute of Engineers (AEM).

According to ACCEFPM president Lau Veng Seng, although Macau’s GDP reported a rapid growth in recent years, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and construction companies could not truly benefit and even faced more hardships.

He said that it was because many construction-related laws and regulations were lagging behind and the administrative efficiency was poor.

“After the Ao Man Long case, public works departments were overly conservative in approving construction projects. and also lacked commitment and the spirit to actively solve problems,” Mr Lau said.

“Land law, fire regulations and construction charter are still under revision and thus there are no standards to follow, which makes the government unnecessarily slow down the approval procedures,” he added.

Mr Lau urged the Chief Executive candidate, if he is elected, that the next government should put the top concern to “relevant civil servants’ morale, and enhance their self confidence at work so that they could perform their duties and boost work efficiency”.

During this time when certain laws and regulations are still being amended, Mr Lau suggested to set up some guidelines in order to accelerate the approval process for construction projects.

Yet, Mr Chui was reluctant about the idea, and said that when new laws were not yet passed, the government undoubtedly must have to work in line with the existing systems.

Meanwhile, the ACCEFPM president pushed forward the proposal to Mr Chui regarding the separation of design and construction tenders.

“The government can stage a design tender prior to the construction part…so that more local professionals can participate in the design work, increase their professional experience and expand their business network,” Mr Lau said.

“The separation can also greatly reduce contractors’ costs to bid in tenders and thus allow more SMEs to participate,” he added.

Mr Lau also suggested the next government to divide large-scale construction projects into a number of small projects to be staged in individual tenders so that SMEs could directly benefit from it.

The Chief Executive candidate agreed and said that separating tenders and dividing large-scale projects would be a “win-win situation” for construction companies and workers.

“I’m not a construction expert but I heard that it’s technically feasible to divide large-scale projects into small ones,” Mr Chui said.

“Changes might be seen in the future after carrying out study with industry experts,” he told the meeting.

On the other hand, the Macau Construction Association vice-president Mak Soi Kun said human resources were a prominent issue especially in the local construction industry.

Mr Mak said that a 2003 survey showed that nobody entered the industry, the average age of workers was 45 and up to 70 percent of them had only completed primary education.

“Talents are a crucial element for the development of Macau. But we don’t have a formal training institute to train technical personnel. I’m worried that in the next construction boom, the industry would face the same difficulty,” Mr Mak said.

Hence, he suggested to Mr Chui the setting up of a human resources database in order to “help companies save costs in recruitments and finish construction projects more effectively”.

In addition, he urged the implementation of a comprehensive industry survey to find out problems and provide the Human Resources Office scientific data in approving applications.

Mr Chui responded that he would support the plans if the industry deemed necessary.

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