Planning and building permits :New legislation for single-window permits system by this year end – Min Rodrigues

…says overseas-based Guyanese will be able to access from anywhere

The Housing and Water Ministry on Monday held its second round of consultations with agency heads on the single window system being introduced to make issuing planning and building permits a smoother process, where they were also told that legislation to support this new system will be introduced by year end.

Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues

During the consultation session on the Single Window Solution for Planning Permission, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, 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 explained.

Some of the agency heads and senior officials at the consultation

Minister Rodrigues also spoke 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.
“With the expected increase in development application volumes, the Government has recognised the need to introduce a far more automated process, a streamlined workflow as you’ve heard, both within CH&PA and with stakeholder agencies that are part of the overall approval process.”
“As a matter of fact, the increase in planning and construction is already upon us, with an unprecedented 1964 applications processed by the CH&PA between the period October 2020 and September 2022… 1798 of those applications were approved in full or in part and 88 are directly related to the oil and gas industry,” Rodrigues said.
This system, Minister Rodrigues 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.