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Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague, says the Government is continuously working to create a more customer-friendly environment for persons conducting business with the State.
“We have come to recognise that our philosophy of governance must review, rethink and refocus our energies on serving our customers by designing and delivering superior customer value that enhances the customers’ experience every time he or she does business with us,” he said.
Mr. Montague was speaking at a seminar on the Land Development Process – Policies, Standards and Guidelines, hosted by the Land Surveyors Association at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, today (July 22).

State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague (right), emphasises a point to President of the Land Surveyors Association of Jamaica, Llewelyn Allen, during a seminar on the Land Development Process, hosted by the Association at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, today (July 22).

The State Minister said the Department of Local Government has revisited the Government’s business model and operational efficiencies, and that the Department is currently conducting a human resource audit of all parish councils to ensure that not only infrastructure and processes are in place, but that the right persons are effectively serving customers.
Mr. Montague said that the local government reform process has been making strides in addressing the needs of customers by improving the customer experience through a critical area – the development approval process – which proposes a 90-day timeline for approvals.
He said that the 90-day timeline begins the moment the application for subdivision or building approval, with the requisite conditions fulfilled, is handed in, to the day the final stamp of approval is given.
“Within this 90-day approval timeframe, is the ‘one-stop shop’ in which the experts in the various areas, for example, hydrology and urban planning, review your application and pass it along the chain of agencies for the various inspections, comments and ultimately stamps of approval or rejection,” he said.

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague (centre) and President of the Land Surveyors Association of Jamaica, Llewelyn Allen (left), listen to a point being made by Vice President of the Association, Anthony B. Prendergast, at a seminar on the Land Development Process, hosted by the Association at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, today (July 22).

The State Minister informed that the use of innovative technology such as the AMANDA tracking system, a web-based software, will help in achieving the 90-day approval timeline.
“This system supports and enhances the development approval process. It is designed to minimise the delays in the assessment of applications for investment and development projects, while broadening the information base on which decisions are made,” he informed.
Already rolled out in the Manchester Parish Council, Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation, St. James and St. Catherine Parish Councils, the system, which can also generate the requisite reports on time in a less tedious manner, is to be officially launched next month.
The Minister said that another business process being seriously addressed is the skill sets within the workforce, noting the Government’s collaboration with the University of Technology (UTech), to design a basic draftsman module, “that will put draftsmen from the Councils and within the wider society, on an even keel as a starting point for acceptance.”
Also being spearheaded by the Institute of Engineers is the building code training programme, he noted.
Another initiative that the Government has undertaken in a bid to more effectively serve customers, is the implementation of a help desk, by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), designed to better track building applications in the system, the Minister further informed.
He noted that the help desk will facilitate queries and lend assistance to the approval process for buildings and subdivisions.
Mr. Montague pointed out that the Government was also moving to standardise and streamline the Government’s building processes, adding that the completion of a new international building code as a standard for building construction, was currently being addressed.
“The promulgation of the National Building Act will soon be done…so we have been working on all the fronts – technological, human, administrative and legislative – all in a bid to achieve the 90-day approval time to which we are committed,” he said.