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Pennelope Beckles

Housing Minister Pennelope Beckles does not expect the increasing cost of steel and steel products to impact the ongoing construction of 1,400 Housing Development Corporation’s (HDC) houses.

In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Beckles said the recent 70 per cent increase in the cost of steel and steel products will not impact projects that have already started.

“As it relates to those houses that are under construction, we don’t believe it is going to have a substantial impact, in other words, we don’t think the prices will impact those that are under construction right now, not that it wouldn’t but we don’t think it will be major,” Beckles said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been blamed for the massive increases in construction material as steel mills shut down last year for a significant period of time. With restrictions being rolled back in most parts of the world, the demand for steel has risen sharply. Although production has restarted, global experts do not expect prices to drop anytime soon. The earliest reduction in prices is being forecasted to happen in early 2022.

Beckles told Guardian Media that her ministry will have to keep analysing global trends and how they would affect HDC projects planned for 2021.

“The 2,000 houses that we expect to build in 2021, yes that may be affected because we understand that steel and lumber commodities are subject to market changes but we will treat every project on a case by case basis,” she said.

Speaking earlier in the day at an HDC distribution ceremony, chairman Noel Garcia said contractors have been asked to send in the documentation of any price increase they encounter during construction.

“We have asked contractors who are affected to send in their justification for any price increases but as I said earlier, we do not anticipate it will have any impact over the short term,” Garcia said.