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The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is introducing the workflow Applications Management and Data Automation (AMANDA) system, to improve speed and efficiency in processing development applications.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Peter Knight, told journalists at a media briefing at NEPA’s offices in Kingston on Tuesday (June 9), that AMANDA will facilitate timely tracking and management of all development approval applications submitted to the agency.
“It also allows applicants, or interested stakeholders, to go online and view the status of any application, once the reference number is entered,” he outlined.
The programme is to be rolled out as a pilot at the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and the Manchester Parish Council, Mr. Knight explained. He said that the system has the capacity to integrate with the Local Planning Authorities (the Parish Councils) to provide a comprehensive, seamless management and monitoring system for all applications.
He also reported that the agency has cleared up some 1,344 outstanding applications submitted prior to 2008. Additionally, all 687 applications received during the first quarter of this year, January to March, have been processed; eighty three percent within the 90-day turn-around time being enunciated by the administration.
“We feel, however, that the process can be significantly improved, if we think outside the box, be bold, and change and/or remove certain practices,” Mr. Knight said.
He stated that NEPA’s Applications Management Division has been given clear mandates and “carte blanche” approval to move files (applications) through the system in a more efficient way.
“They have accepted the challenge and agreed to be held accountable for unnecessary bottlenecks and delays in the processing of files,” he noted.
Mr. Knight disclosed that several development approval process initiatives are being “aggressively pursued”, to reduce the timeline for approvals as well as improve efficiency.
These include: a review of how files are handled internally; co-ordinating efforts with referral agencies; conducting joint reviews of planning and environmental applications; and finalising the roll-out of AMANDA to the Parish Councils.
He added that closely related to the Development Approval Process (DAP) is the work being done by the agency in completing development orders.
“Development orders have been completed for the parishes of Portland and Trelawny. Work has commenced on preparing development orders for St. James and St. Catherine. The preparation for the St. Thomas Parish Development Order will commence later in this financial year,” he advised.
He added that NEPA will shortly commence work on preparing a National Spatial Plan, in tandem with the development division of the Office of the Prime Minister(OPM).
Mr. Knight disclosed that the Technical Review Committee (TRC) has also been strengthened, and made more efficient.
“One critical initiative was to invite the Director of Urban and Regional Planning and Development in the Department of Local Government (DLG) to sit on the TRC. This has served a dual purpose: it now includes the DLG in the decision making process at the national level; and supports the Agency in providing feedback to the Local Planning Authorities,” he said.