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  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, is assuring members of the Diaspora, looking to do business in Jamaica, that the local authorities are ready and able to facilitate their investment projects.
  • He cited the Application Management and Data Automation (AMANDA) system, which has been operationalised at all Parish Councils, to speed up the processing of development applications.
  • The AMANDA software is designed to track and manage the development application process, as part of measures by the Government to improve the climate for doing business.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, is assuring members of the Diaspora, looking to do business in Jamaica, that the local authorities are ready and able to facilitate their investment projects.

He cited the Application Management and Data Automation (AMANDA) system, which has been operationalised at all Parish Councils, to speed up the processing of development applications.

“I am very pleased to tell you that we are ready to facilitate any and every good project with the necessary permits,” Minister Arscott said, while addressing a Local Government Forum at the just concluded Jamaica Diaspora Conference.

“We do this every day, from facilitating a new idea for an agricultural project to a new hotel which is, of course, our highest foreign exchange earner. Local Government is on the frontline of economic development and I invite you to take part,” Minister Arscott urged.

The AMANDA software is designed to track and manage the development application process, as part of measures by the Government to improve the climate for doing business.

Once an application has been accepted by the planning agency, the details, such as scanned drawings and relevant information, will be entered into the AMANDA database.

At the same time, each task in the process is sent out to the relevant agency. Once a job has been completed and is indicated in the database, AMANDA prompts the agency responsible for performing the next task in the process flow.

From this database an acceptance letter with a unique reference number will be generated and issued to the applicant.

Minister Arscott said the AMANADA system is ensuring greater compliance among developers as well as professionals in the land development and construction fields. As a result, there has been a significant reduction in the length of time for development approvals and increased customer satisfaction.

He noted that as part of the system, help desks have been set up at the Parish Councils, which “are there to assist you and guide you through the process…we are creating a system, which is transparent, that’s accountable and you can know it’s predictable.”

Session moderator and Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Glendon Harris, said Local Government is “a critical partner in ensuring that there is (economic) growth and development.”

He informed that through the AMANDA system, the council has reduced processing time for building applications, from 90 days to 42 days.

Deputy Director of Public Works in Orlando, Florida, Charles Ramdatt, said local governance in Jamaica can benefit from free or low-cost technical and advisory input from the Diaspora.

He suggested the formation of liaison committees, which would facilitate contribution from overseas nationals.

“We need to have local Diaspora Liaising Committees and the composition, I am suggesting is representation from Parish Councils, from the staff, and maybe a couple of members of the Diaspora Advisory Council and key members from local community organisations and key members of the Diaspora,” Mr. Ramdatt recommended.

Also addressing the forum were: Senior Director in the Local Government and Community Development Ministry, Calvert Thomas; Former Commissioner for the city of Miramar in Florida, Alexandra Davis; Attorney-at-law at Nicholson Phillips, Lorna Phillips; Former Chairman of the Jamaican Diaspora in the United Kingdom, Bentley Cunningham; and Director of Planning at the St. James Parish Council, Trevion Manning.