Global chief executive of RICS, Sean Tompkins, calls on governments in the Middle East to find better ways of stimulating collaboration in the construction sector – for the good of all parties and for the future of the profession.
“We have a construction industry globally that is really set up to argue and fight during the process of projects, and that comes right at the point of procurement – how projects are initiated, how they are procured and set up,” Tompkins tells Construction Week.
RICS aims to encourage governments to “find ways to improve collaboration” in the industry, which could help to “improve the construction cost overall and reduce the time it takes to deliver on projects”, Tompkins says.
“One thing we have been looking at, which is really important, is that when there is a dispute, how do you make sure that it is not just wrapped up in the courts for years? This may be halting progress and may not be providing an important piece of infrastructure.”
He continues: “There are alternative ways that you can set these things up, [such as by using] alternative conflict avoidance mechanisms. At RICS, we would really argue that these types of things need to be looked at and embraced within contracts in order to create greater collaboration going forwards.”
RICS is one of the oldest built-environment professional institutions in the world and was formed in the UK 150 years ago. It has launched an industry-wide consultation called Future of the Profession, which explores how the industry can adapt to the disruptions that society will face as a result of rampant urbanisation and technological change. The consultation ended in October and Tompkins hopes it will “provide a real blueprint for the changes that need to take place in this industry”.
The world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and close to two-thirds of people are expected to live in cities by that time. Tompkins describes this as “an unprecedented pace that will hit every city in the world”.
He says “most cities are struggling to cope” with this rate of change in terms of infrastructure, housing, and social cohesion.
“That is the big element of change, and what is happening in the construction industry is that for many, many years, our existing business models have struggled to keep up with the current pace, and here is a requirement for a pace way faster than anything we have ever considered. This is where the challenges are going to come from,” he explains.
“This is where technology [such as] big data [and] artificial intelligence […] will come into the industry as a way of improving and projecting that pace at a much quicker rate. We have to be ready for that and seize it before other people with other business models do.”
While Tompkins admits meeting the demands for infrastructure and housing “will require money”, there are other ways in which RICS claims it will be able to help future-proof the construction sector: “What the world looks for are areas with great transparency, high standards, good ethical behaviour, and professions that you can trust – and that is what we stand for.
“On that level, providing those standards, providing people with competencies, is something that we are supplying to the world in order to deal with these challenges.”
Tompkins says he would like to see “different leadership” in construction that embraces innovation to ensure that the sector is prepared for the biggest challenges currently facing the industry.
The Future of the Profession consultation by RICS is only the first step on an uncertain and challenging road, Tompkins says. Nonetheless, it is one that the industry will need to take note of, if it is to be equipped with the tools and technical expertise necessary to meet future urbanisation head on.
Per GOVERNMENT EUROPAposted last June, “Funding for border security, management and migration will increase from a total of €13bn over the period 2014-2020, to €34.9bn over the next budgetary period, from 2021-2027. The increase in funding reflects the need to respond to the growing challenges of irregular migration, security and mobility.”
The EU spending more on border and migration control should not come as a surprise. The migrant crisis which began with the unrests of individual countries of the MENA region, carried on for some time as this constant flow of the Mediterranean Sea crossings towards the northern shores seem to defy everything, and all indicators showed that this is not ending any day soon.
Guinea’s President Alpha Conde (R), President-in-Office of the African Union (AU), speaks with Donald Tusk (L), the President of the European Council, during a joint news conference after the closing session of the 5th African Union – European Union (AU-EU) summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 30 November 2017. [Legnan Koula/EPA/EFE]
The European Commission’s proposal to bolster Europe’s borders would mean that for the first time the EU will spend more on migration control than on developing Africa, as the determination to ‘fortify’ the Continent prevails among national governments and institutions.
This stance breaks with Europe’s traditional approach, in which the Union was proud to be seen as the world’s largest donor to developing nations.
The Commission says that the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), the EU’s long-term budget for 2021-2027, would increase funds for Sub-Saharan Africa by 23%, from €26.1 billion to €32 billion.
However, these figures (in current prices) varied significantly when constant prices are used.
As Commission officials confirmed to EURACTIV, the amount in 2018 prices (hence taking into account inflation) is estimated at €26.6bn for the 2014-2020 period.
The figure for the period 2021-2027 in 2018 prices for Sub-Saharan Africa would be €28.3 billion. This amount would represent an additional 7% compared to the previous MFF in real terms.
But this increase would be minimal compared to the extra support given to migration and border management.
The Commission wants to allocate €30.83 billion for these priorities for the next seven-year period, also in 2018 prices.
This represents around €2.5 billion more than the funds earmarked for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The bulk of the money (€18.8 billion) would be dedicated to border management. This would represent almost a 200% increase compared to the previous seven year budget, when €5.6 billion was allocated.
Almost half of this amount (€10.58 billion) would be dedicated to supporting decentralized agencies, especially the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA).
The Commission wants to increase the personnel of EBCGA to 10,000 border guards and officials.
A total of €9.97 billion also under this envelope would go to migration management, in particular to support member states through the Asylum and Migration Fund.
Part of this envelope would be for asylum, legal migration and integration. But at least half of these funds could end up dedicated to countering irregular migration, to execute returns and support member states with additional resources to protect their borders in case of emergency situations.
The EU has other instruments to support Africa: the Africa Trust Fund and part of its External Investment Plan.
Most of the EU funds (around €3.5 billion) to support the trust fund come from budget lines already included in the African envelope, in particular the European Development Fund (EDF).
In addition, member states and other donors (including Switzerland and Norway) pledged €439 million, and €393 million had been paid so far.
As regards to the Investment plan for Africa, the Commission contributed €4.4 billion, also financed through instruments such as the EDF and the relevant parts of the Development Cooperation Instrument, already included in the funds for Africa.
Under the ‘Juncker plan’ for Africa, the EU aims to mobilise around €44 billion in investment through financial engineering (guarantees and blending), mostly coming from the private sector.
The EU allocated €22 billion for its Neighbourhood area for 2021-2027, which includes Eastern countries and the Southern Mediterranean region.
However, the allocation of funds per country and priorities would come during the programming phase, once the regulation has been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission explained.
The Commission’s MFF proposal will be discussed in the coming months by the Parliament and member states.
The extra money has been allocated to bolster EU’s external borders despite the number of arrivals to Europe having decreased by around 80% this year, compared to 2017.
But a growing group of countries want to shield the Union, including the Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), the new Italian government and Austria.
This represents a stark contrast with 2015, when the news of the deadliest modern shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea that killed about 800 migrants, and the image of a drowned Syrian boy on the Turkish coast triggered a wave of solidarity in Europe with the newcomers.
That year, the number of arrivals by sea registered the record number of 1,015,078, according to the UNHCR.
Some senior EU officials insist that more resources should be allocated for Africa.
European Parliament president, Antonio Tajani, said that the “primary duty of Europe” should be to combat the root causes of the migration flows, including the instability and insecurity in large parts of Africa, and the poverty, famine and climate change in the continent.
By 2050, the population of Africa is set to double to more than 2.5 billion. Tajani warned that if Europe does not act, the arrivals we see today would turn into millions.
“We will see biblical movements of people from the South to the North”, he told reporters in early July, on the occasion of Austria’s takeover of the rotating presidency of the EU.
Noting the Investment plan for Africa and the African Trust Fund, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said during the same press conference that it was “not a correct picture of what it is being done when people said we are doing nothing for Africa”.
Speaking alongside the two presidents, Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced a “paradigm shift” in tackling the migration issue during his semester at the EU’s helm. His top priority will be securing EU’s external borders.
Kurz, leader of Austria’s Popular Party, illustrates how mainstream parties in Europe have toughened their stance toward migration in recent months.
Following his victory in elections last October, he formed a government with the extreme-right Freedom Party.
WAM, the Emirates News Agency posted this article April 8th, 2018 about the UAE with the second-largest Arab economy, is leading the Arab world in attracting Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI). It is known that Dubai leads Arab start-ups but the recent Saudi Arabian reforms being engaged in the non-oil local activities may possibly alter that.
In the meantime, the UAE bankruptcy laws and company possible total foreign ownership are no longer hampering but rather allow total foreign contribution to the sought after investment in the local economy.
In 2016, the UAE attracted 29 percent of the total FDI inflow in the Arab world, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, told the media ahead of the Annual Investment Meeting, AIM, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 9th to 11th, 2018, under the theme, “Partnerships for Total Growth and Sustainable Development.”
The FDI inflow to the UAE reached AED37.8 billion (US$10.3 billion) in 2017, according to the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, FCSA, up from AED35.23 billion ($9.6 billion) recorded in 2016. This raised the total FDI stock of the country to AED473.500 billion ($128.94 billion) in 2017.
“We also topped Arab countries in terms of attracting new foreign investment projects, as we attracted 4,492 foreign investment projects in the UAE, out of a total of 12,192 new investment projects in the Arab countries from 2003 to 2016, reflecting the competitiveness of the national economy at the state level in creating efficient business,” he added.
The country is also working on luring quality investments that serve its development objectives and provide additional value to the national economy.
“FDI plays a crucial role in strengthening economic growth and raising the efficiency of national economies, and the UAE is constantly adapting the best policies and economic trends to keep pace with changes in the nature and trends of foreign investments to consolidate its position as a global destination for business and finance.
“According to preliminary data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, global FDI flows are forecast to decline by 16 percent in 2017, from $1.81 trillion in 2016 to $1.52 trillion in 2017,” he said.
However, FDI inflows to developing economies are expected to stabilise in 2017, reaching about $653 billion, an increase of 2 percent over 2016.
“This indicates the need for countries, including the UAE, to continue their efforts to attract more investments in those sectors that add value, and to develop the appropriate policies and frameworks to make the best use of the presence of FDI to serve their development objectives,” he added.
Speaking about the Annual Investment Meeting, he said, “It is a collaborative platform for linking advanced and emerging markets and exploring potential partnership opportunities and will address obstacles facing acceleration of FDI inflow. It will also seek to explore promising investment opportunities in vital sectors, including energy, mining, manufacturing, infrastructure, logistics, agriculture, tourism and ICT.”
WAM/Elsadig Idriss/MOHD AAMIR
Out of all the MENA countries, the GCC migrant domestic workers, mainly in the UAE and Qatar where together with their outdoor counterpart such as drivers and / or other domestic helpers form almost the majority of all expatriate workers. Elsewhere in the GCC, the situation though practically similar, would be less acute in terms of numbers. Since the advent of oil & gas and all related boom years, this situation has decanted down from the countries leaders, generalising to most settled populations as some sort of consensual culture.
Policies of Saudisation, Emiritisation and Qatarisation, to name but a few, are on-going operations that are meant to mitigate the above and are relatively successful in their discrete implementation. If that is not enough, legislation and other administration’s rules and regulations covering all aspects of life that were supplemented by the recent introduction of various taxation and annulation of certain state subsidies are in turn affecting the flow of immigration. This has always been subjected to what is called the “Kafala” or a sponsorship of an employer system.
GCC countries have however made notable progress in recent years but despite that, abuse has still been noted here and there, through sad and very hyped up events. Meanwhile, the GCC’s dependence generally, on expatriate workforce is reckoned by most to continue in the near future because mainly of the enduring rentier economy’s related life style coupled with the not diminishing shortage of professionally and technically qualified local workers.
An (International Labour Organization) ILO’s Domestic Work White Paper Press release | 08 March 2018 outlines policy recommendations to reform the migrant domestic work sector and establish a professionalized and high-quality care economy in the region.
The domestic work sector makes a vital economic and social contribution to the Arab States region, with domestic workers supporting the care of children during critical stages of development, supporting the elderly to live with dignity, and relieving nationals of their domestic and care responsibilities, enabling greater female labour force participation. Migrant workers form the majority of workers in this sector in the Arab States – with the region hosting 3.16 million migrant domestic workers .
Important progress has been made over the last few years by a number of countries in the region towards legislative change to better regulate the sector. Weak enforcement, however, means that the sector is susceptible to a high turnover of workers and poor efficiency in job matching and job placement, and is characterized by informality and large numbers of workers in an irregular situation. Poor regulation of the international recruitment industry (including illegal charging of fees and related costs to workers), coupled with restrictions under the kafala sponsorship system, leave workers and employers unsatisfied with the current sector model.
“Employers’ and domestic workers’ needs are not necessarily in conflict,” said Ruba Jaradat, ILO Regional Director for Arab States. “Rather both parties call for transparency in the recruitment process, amendments and clarifications on the conditions of sponsorship, better quality skills development and job matching, and streamlined systems of dispute resolution.”
“Employers and workers can become allies in calling for reform to the sector,” Jaradat said.
As demographics and household structures transform in the region, the White Paper recommends that governments of the Arab States work towards establishing a professionalized and quality care economy , of which domestic work and the labour of migrant workers forms an essential part. A vibrant, strong and resilient care economy should take into account the needs and preferences of employers, ensure high quality care and services, and guarantee decent working conditions (for both nationals and migrant workers).
The paper presents a number of innovative practices from around the world.
“To find a way to balance employers’ right to privacy, with the need to assess working conditions, new models of labour inspection can be introduced,” said Sophia Kagan, Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO’s FAIRWAY project , citing one example.
“Information and awareness raising sessions and campaigns can be implemented for both workers and employers. Campaigns targeting employers must incorporate behaviour change messages to help shift practices that have been cemented over generations,” Kagan continued.
Finally, the report points to the importance of social dialogue which can be achieved through the creation and support of organizations that represent the interests of both parties.
The ILO’s work includes supporting governments in the region to develop and implement new thinking that can ensure a productive domestic work sector to the benefit of all – workers, employers and society.
THE GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX 2016 published this information page “as violent conflict escalates and political, economic, social and security spill overs destabilise many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the profile of victims vulnerable to modern slavery has shifted. Though MENA continues to act as a destination for men and women from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa who are attracted to the region with promises of well-paying jobs, increasingly Middle Easterners themselves faced exploitation and slavery in 2016. Victims were identified as forced recruits in state and non-state armed groups, as victims of forced marriage and victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign and local citizens were subject to forced labour and debt bondage in service sectors such as domestic work, cleaning, and as drivers and restaurant workers, as well as in construction, agriculture and mechanics.” Slavery in today’s MENA and in the world generally still escapes the media’s radar.
In effect, this sort of affairs is not restricted to the MENA region only as per today the Construction Index of the United Kingdom published this short but significant article on the same but sad subject.
The government’s Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), supported by police, carried out simultaneous swoops on five homes in Barking, Walthamstow, Forest Gate, Ilford and Newham as part of an investigation into the exploitation of eastern European workers.
One man is in custody on suspicion of modern slavery offences and more than 50 people are being treated as ‘vulnerable’ following the early morning raids yesterday (21st February).
The GLAA raids were in response to allegations of labour abuse on construction sites across the capital, threats of violence and false identities being used.
A number of people, all believed to be Romanian or Moldovan nationals, were found to be living at the five addresses that were raided. In one terraced house 23 people were found to be living in cramped conditions, including six women and two young children. Ten have been taken to a reception centre, including two 15-year-old boys.
The arrested man, a Romanian national in his 20s, is being held at Forest Gate Police Station for questioning.
GLAA senior investigating officer Tony Byrne said: “Our capability to investigate and take action to disrupt alleged criminality and labour abuse is increasing. Our priority is to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation and today’s action demonstrates we will act when our intelligence suspects labour offences are being committed.”
The Crown Prosecution Service is this week hosting a three-day summit on modern slavery and human trafficking, with representatives from 15 countries.
An article of Asharq Al Awsat Marrakesh, Morocco by Heba El Koudsy followed by another by Abdul-Kabeer Al-Manawi and Hassan Moqna reading would give a pretty clear idea of how concerned certain governments and elites of the MENA in procuring employment to the increasingly populous and educated youth of their respective countries whilst “the importance of Arab countries continuing reforms to promote inclusive growth, empower women and the youth, support the private sector, fight corruption and counter terrorism to create an attractive investment climate.” It must be added that at this conjecture, it might not be as easy as it has generally been in the recent past. These articles cover the said happening in Morocco, but all facts relate more to the Gulf countries than to those of the Maghreb where demand for jobs vs. youth population are diametrically opposed.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde addresses an IMF economic conference in Marrakesh on January 30, 2018 (AFP Photo/STR)
Participants in the “Opportunity for All” Conference in Marrakesh underlined the importance of continuing reforms to promote inclusive growth, empower women and the youth, support the private sector, fight corruption and counter terrorism to create an attractive investment climate.
The two-day conference, which was held on Monday, is organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Marrakesh in cooperation with the Moroccan Government.
During his speech on Tuesday, Saadeddin al-Othmani, Prime Minister of Morocco, emphasized the need to bolster reforms.
He said that changes in the global economy have resulted in economic and social challenges in most countries, including demographic transition, changes in population structure and social culture, as well as the higher aspirations of young people and women.
This necessitates the development of policies to respond to those aspirations, including raising the quality of education, health services, social coverage and employment opportunities, according to Othmani.
IMF Director Christine Lagarde focused on three points needed for the Arab region, which include the necessity for inclusive growth, change and transformation and an agenda for the whole region.
She noted that achieving growth should start with creating an active private sector to promote jobs, supporting vulnerable groups, women and the youth, and exploiting financial policies to invest in people and infrastructure.
For his part, Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Humaidi, Director General of the Arab Monetary Fund, stressed three priorities in tackling the challenges of unemployment and growth in the Arab region.
He pointed out that the first was the need to achieve economic diversification in the Arab economies, while the second priority is to support entrepreneurs, and the third is to enhance access to financial services.
Humaidi explained that only 13 percent of women in the region had access to financial services, compared to 47 percent globally. He stressed the need to exploit modern technologies in financial activities and services.
Job-seekers stand in line to talk with a recruiter at a booth at a job fair in Riyadh. (Reuters file photo)
A conference held in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh witnessed a series of discussions focused on the job-creating process in regional countries.
Creating job opportunities is vital in order to absorb the millions of young people entering the labor market in coming years and is expected to be realized through utilizing new sources and reinforcing growth across sectors and getting governments to be supportive of needed policies.
Held under the theme “Opportunity for All: Promoting Growth, Jobs, and Inclusiveness in the Arab World,” the conference also focused on specific policies needed to gain new sources of growth.
The meeting was attended by Glowork founder Khalid Alkhudair, Director of Trade, World Bank Regional Integration and Investment Climate Caroline Freund, Careem General Manager – Emerging Markets Ibrahim Manna, and Moroccan Capital Markets Authority (AMMC) Chairperson Nezha Hayat.
Participants focused on how large-scale SME prosperity could be achieved. They also addressed education and training reform to prepare young people for employment in the private sector.
They agreed that growth has not been strong enough to reduce unemployment significantly, as 25 percent of young people in the region are jobless.
Protracted regional conflicts, low commodity prices, weak productivity and poor governance have been identified as main factors gelding back the considerable potential of the region.
In order to boost inclusive economic growth, the conference summarized the priorities of the path to be taken in Marrakesh Call for Action, which calls on governments to “Act Now” to pursue a set of actions or reforms.
These reforms promote accountability through increasing transparency and strengthening institutions to improve governance, tackling corruption and ensuring responsibility for inclusive policies.
The document urged for a more vibrant private sector through improved access to finance and a better business environment with fewer barriers and less red tape. It also called for leveraging technology and nurturing trade to generate new sources of growth, create jobs and foster prosperity.
It stressed the importance of building strong safety nets and strengthening legal rights to empower disadvantaged groups, including youth, women, rural populations and refugees.