Govt lays long-awaited Single Window System Bill in National Assembly

– says Bill will create a more business-friendly environment
The long-awaited Planning and Development Single Window System Bill of 2022 was on Monday presented in the National Assembly by Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal, and when passed, it will establish a central point at which persons can process construction documents and expedite the building process.

Housing Minister Collin Croal

According to the particulars of the Bill, it is the creation of a single window electronic processing system to increase business efficiency, as the housing and construction industries are expanding rapidly.
The Bill will also provide for the establishment of the Planning Oversight Committee, the functions of which are defined in the document. It is envisioned that this committee will centralise functions relating to land use preparation and development and matters associated with it.
The legislation has been previously referenced by the Government. During a consultation session on the Single Window Solution for Planning Permission in October of this year, Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues spoke about their preparations.
Besides extensive consultations, she explained that CH&PA hired experts from the Region for assistance in setting up the single window system. Their preparation for activating this single window system also includes introducing new legislation by the end of this year.
“At this point, where Guyana is poised for economic take-off, the reform is necessary in respect of legislative amendments and streamlining procedures so that processing times for planning and building permits can be reduced and customer service improved. Currently, the system is primarily paper-based.”
“The goal is to have an integrated electronic permitting system where the agencies will no longer operate as silos… we identified possible options in relation to legal and administrative frameworks and in fact the draft bill to implement the single window, as I mentioned, is expected to be ready by the end of the year,” Rodrigues had explained.
Minister Rodrigues had also spoken about the increase in applications for permits, a significant portion of which were for the oil and gas sector. This increased workload necessitates an automated system.
This system, Minister Rodrigues had assured, is one that will be accessible from all over the world, thus making it easier for the diaspora to invest. And with Guyana yet to break into double figures on the ease of doing business report, Government has its eyes on improving the country’s score on this index.
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 is working on the single window system as a mechanism to enhance the ease of doing and setting up businesses in the country.
“What we’ve done, and which the President [Dr Irfaan Ali] has put a lot of emphasis on, is in the issue of a single window system – whereby, for instance, if you want to set up a business and need a number of permits or whatever paperwork is required, you go to a single window arrangement. So, a lot of effort is being put into that,” Persaud had stated.