EGC Working With Stakeholders to Reform Development Approval Process

Photo: JIS Photographer Economic Growth Council (EGC) Chairman, Michael Lee-Chin (right), addresses journalists during the EGC’s Sixth Quarterly Report at Jamaica House on Thursday (August 23). At left is EGC Executive Director, Senator Aubyn Hill.

Economic Growth Council (EGC) Chairman, Michael Lee-Chin, says the Council is working closely with several key stakeholders, including the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, to identify and rectify factors delaying the development approval process.

Speaking at Thursday’s (August 23) sixth EGC quarterly briefing at Jamaica House, Mr. Lee-Chin said the Council is seeking to lend technical expertise, where necessary, to drive timely reform of the process.

This, he said, is aimed at expediting the timeline for granting approvals and standardising the attendant fees.

The Chairman noted that the delay in granting approvals has been a perennial challenge and a major hindrance to Jamaica’s attainment of higher levels of sustainable growth.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, approvals span about 147 days and 19 processes.

Mr. Lee-Chin said the issue is further compounded by delays in the relevant stakeholders’ completion of parish development orders, which were due to be finalised by June 2018.

The missed deadline, he pointed out, is attributable to several factors, including: delayed feedback from the respective Municipal Corporations, and the printing of provisional Development Orders.

The Chairman said preliminary information indicates that some of the Orders have, “to some extent,” not been entirely completed.

Against this background, Mr. Lee-Chin said the EGC conducted its own investigation into the matter and along with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), which is responsible for the country’s orderly development, and Jamaica Printing Services Limited, undertook work which enabled the printing of provisional Development Orders by June 24, 2018.

Additionally, he said the Council is following up with the various Ministers/Ministries, Municipal Corporations, Mayors and Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, “to ensure that the completion of the initiatives is expedited.”

“The Economic Growth Council will continue to work and we will be relentless in following up on agreed strategies and timelines,” Mr. Lee-Chin emphasised.

He argued that if the country “is going to attract the kind of growth-inducing investments we seek, we’ll have to continue to work hard at removing the high levels of bureaucracy from our processes, particularly in the development and building application approval process.”

In this regard, the Chairman urged the relevant stakeholders to “once and for all, get the Development Orders finished so (that) we can clear up the backlog of projects that are lingering.”

NEPA indicated in 2015 that four new Development Orders had already been done for Portland, Manchester, Trelawny and Negril, while work was being undertaken on an additional three for Kingston, Clarendon and St. Thomas.

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