Wednesday, November 25, 2009

RP contractors eye part of $15-B Guam project

RP contractors eye part of $15-B Guam project

November 25, 2009, 5:04pm

Filipino contractors are now vying to partake in the $15 billion U.S. military build-up in Guam, but are urged to undertake more training for workers to ensure there is enough manpower pool for the booming domestic construction industry.

This was revealed at a business forum Wednesday on “Opportunities in Guam for the Philippine Construction Industry” organized by the Philippine Constructors Association Inc. and the Bureau of Export Trade Promotion of the Department of Trade and Industry where Guam government officials have indicated the preference for Filipino skilled workers.

Guam Senator Judith P. Guthertz,, chairperson on Guam military build-up an homeland security, said Guam could hire 15,000 Filipino workers starting 2101 until 2014 when the build-up is supposed to be completed.

In expressing preference for Filipino workers, Guthertz traced the history of Guam and the Philippines revealing that Guam used to be a province of the Philippines during the Spanish colonization. At least 30 percent of Guam’s population is of Filipino ancestry and that Filipinos were in the forefront in the reconstruction of Guam after the World War II.

“We just don’t have enough manpower for massive military build-up,” Guthertz said.

She said the H2 Visa, which restricts the entry of foreign skilled workers, has been lifted by the U.S. government for Guam paving the way for the entry of foreign workers.

Guthertz, an alumna of the University of the Philippines, also doubted the projected 6,000 workers would really possible because these workers have settled already in Hawaii only to uproot their families to work in Guam.

The other sources of manpower for the Guam build-up would come from other neighboring islands in the Pacific but would not still suffice the huge requirement.

Guthertz said that for every $1 billion investments for infrastructure projects, this requires 5,000 workers.

The projected 15,000 jobs that would be created until 2014 do not yet include the projects to be funded by the Japanese government, which agreed to fund the relocation facilities for the U.S. navy that would be transferred from the U.S. naval base in Okinawa.

There would be over 8,600 US marines that would be relocated to Guam plus the US navy for an estimated 28 percent increase in Guam’s 173,000 population.

The military build-up would require new road networks, water and sewerage, power, housing, hospitals and other infrastructure. There will also be build-up off base.

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