Single-window approval for construction permits by year-end

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President Dr Irfaan Ali

By the end of 2022, a single window approval system for construction permits will be activated, thereby providing significant ease and eliminating the royal run-around to get these permits validated.

This announcement was made by President Dr Irfaan Ali during his address at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Business Development Forum 2022 on Friday at the Pegasus Corporate Center.

According to the Head of State, this will see many hurdles being removed while noting that it will consolidate several interagency procedures into one application document.

“Before the end of this year, we are going to pass the single window approval system for construction permits. That alone removes hurdles. Now, you have to lodge your form, run to CH&PA…then the Fire Service, then Public Health, then some sanitary department…All of that is being erased into one application process,” Ali expressed.

The President expounded on how this system will function, adding that once all objections are fixed, the agency cannot bring new ones.

“What this single window application process will do is very simple. You deposit your application to one window. Electronically, it is sent to all the agencies that need to comment within a timeframe. If they don’t provide their comment, it is deemed approved. If they provide all their comments, the applicant gets a timeframe to respond to their comments. Once you respond to those comments and clear all the hurdles, they can’t come back with any new comments.”

The Guyanese Head of State acknowledged that many aspects of the system are archaic. However, Government is constantly making strides to correct these issues and enable easy access for Guyanese.

“Is the system perfect? No, absolutely no. Is the system archaic? Many parts of the system are archaic. Are we fixing it? Yes, of course, we are fixing it. The system deals with our training, at the technical institute, at the University of Guyana. Is our training geared towards the orientation of the economy?” he questioned.

Speaking on the current state of the construction sector, Ali emphasised that it has been booming and as such, investments and Government intervention to support stakeholders will see hundreds of contractors benefitting.

“I can tell you as I speak to you now, in the last two years, we have more than 420 new small contractors working in this Government, working in this country getting projects every day.”

Last month, the Housing and Water Ministry held consultations with agency heads on the single window system being introduced to make issuing planning and building permits a smoother process.

The Central Housing and Planning Authority hired experts from the Region for assistance in setting up the single window system. The increase in planning and construction has seen 1964 applications being processed by the CH&PA between the period of October 2020 and September 2022.

The Ease of Doing Business Index is one of the most comprehensive studies done by the World Bank, in which it looks at key indicators such as registering, compliance, taxation, obtaining loans, and similar factors such as administrative procedures. It also looks at legal measures such as protection and settlements.

In its last report, the World Bank ranked Guyana 134 out of 190 countries in its Doing Business Report for 2020 as it relates to the ease of doing business. However, the Government has been embarking on setting up a single window system.

Earlier this year, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud had reassured investors that Government was working on the single window system as a mechanism to enhance the ease of doing and setting up businesses in the country.