Allow public project contractors to raise contract prices to deal with surge in input costs, Chong tells govt

Chong (left) showing the media the document on Variation of Price (VOP) for contract works implemented by the federal government with Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong looking on.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 25: Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen has called on the Sarawak government to allow contractors awarded construction work for public projects over the last two years to revise up their awarded contract prices so as to cater to the huge increase in construction material cost.

He voiced this following a Federal Ministry of Works’ directive issued on May 1 that allowed contractors undertaking federal projects to review their contract price up to cater to the increase in cost of building materials.

“Unfortunately, so far, no such directive was issued by the State government.

“In the last one year, the prices of construction material have increased tremendously and steel prices have almost doubled.

“Even the prices of locally produced cement, sand and gravel have increased. Industrial diesel prices have also doubled compared to a year ago,” he said during a brief press conference at the Media Room of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex here today. 

As a result of the increasing cost of building materials, Chong pointed out that almost all contractors who have been awarded construction contracts six months or earlier are finding it impossible to continue with the contract without making huge losses, while many contractors could not afford to proceed with the work.

Noting that many Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) elected representatives have in their debates during the present DUN Sitting urged the government to blacklist these contractors and punish them, Chong however disagreed with their stand. 

“The sudden surge in the price of building material is something that is beyond the control of these contractors.

“Furthermore, given that all of us have suffered over the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and the State’s economy is still slow to recover, these contractors should be given a second chance.  

“To blacklist them at this time will have a far-reaching adverse effect on the State’s economy as a whole, slowing down our recovery,” he cautioned.

Therefore, Chong urged the State government to emulate the federal government’s policy and allow contractors to raise their contract price so that the projects may be completed and they in turn can contribute to the State’s economic recovery. — DayakDaily