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The Development Assistance Centre (DAC), which has been set up at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), to reduce the turnaround time for the processing of building applications, should be fully operational by mid-June.
Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, informed that the core staff has already been identified.
He said that although the facility is not fully operational, NEPA has been facilitating persons, who are seeking assistance with development applications.
To date, 12 such proposals have been dealt with, he informed at a sensitisation meeting held today (June 2) at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
DAC is a one-year pilot programme, which aims to improve the development application approval procedure, by enhancing delivery standard and facilitating speedier processing of submissions. “It is how we intend to carry through on a commitment made by the Prime Minister in relation to the one-stop approval process,” Minister Vaz said.
He informed that the Planning and Development Division within the OPM has been integral to the implementation of the centre, and will monitor its operations to ensure that quality is maintained.
Mr. Vaz noted that the current development application approval process has been criticised as being inefficient, in terms of the time taken to deal with applications, adding that the average estimated turnaround time for applications, such as subdivisions, is between eight and 18 months.
“Not only is the process reported to be tedious due to the circuitous route of the application and the involvement of a myriad of agencies, but it is also costly, both to the applicant and the Government,” he said.
He informed that some of the key reasons contributing to the delay in processing applications include the acceptance of incomplete applications; uncertainty as to where responsibility lies in terms of receipt of applications; lack of resources by NEPA and other regulatory agencies to sign-off on submissions from all the local authorities; and the inability to properly track applications within the system.
Project Co-ordinator for DAC, Jacquelin Stevens, said that the centre will ensure on-time processing of applications; will serve as the point of contact for clients with other agencies/departments/ministries; and monitor and improve the application process from project concept to practical completion.
She noted that a key mission of DAC is to ensure that applications that are submitted are approved within 90 days.