CHPA begins second round of consultation on single-window system

The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) on Monday hosted the second round of consultation on the implementation of an automated single-window system for planning and building permission systems.

Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry, Susan Rodrigues, and Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, joined permanent secretaries and other senior technical representatives of the government in the consultation session at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal.

Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues addressing the participants

The implementation of the single-window system forms part of the government’s efforts to create a business-friendly environment and improve the ease of doing business through an electrical portal that allows investors to submit planning and building permits, and check the status of the permits from anywhere in the world.

Delivering the keynote address, Minister Rodrigues said with the expected increase in development application volume, the government has recognised the need to introduce a far more automated process that streamlines workflow, both within the CHPA and other key agencies.

She related that there is already an increased volume of planning and construction permits, with an unprecedented 1,964 applications already processed by the CHPA between the period October 2020 to September 2022.

Some 1,798 of the applications were approved in full or in part, and 88 are related to the oil and gas industry. 

The minister explained that dealing with construction permits, for the most part, involves the planning permission system, whereby the CHPA is the principal agency with direct functional linkages with the local authorities and with the other regulatory and statutory bodies.

Participants attending the session

Therefore, the establishment of a single-window system in dealing with planning and building is key to improving the efficiency of the system.

“This electronic application and approval system is part of a bigger commitment our government has made to the people of Guyana and those who are desirous of investing here,” Minister Rodrigues said.

She further stated, “We committed to ensuring we introduce e-governance platforms to promote transparency and accountability, to employ the use of technology and innovation in delivering goods and services, and modernising our legal and legislative framework.”     

Key to the implementation of this new system is ensuring the necessary legislative and governance modifications are made.

Minister Rodrigues said by the end of the year the draft will be ready to be presented to the National Assembly.   

Among other steps already taken to commence the implementation of the system is the deploying of the expertise to map and re-engineer the current processes for planning and building permission and seeking recommendations for the development and implementation of an appropriate integrated Electronic Permitting System software that will reduce processing time and allow predictability.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn

While commending the move, Minister Benn spoke of the importance of creating a more user-friendly public service in the new dispensation in which Guyana is seeing an influx of new investors.

He noted that the environment in which services are provided and how officers interact with persons seeking those services need to be improved.

“So, in the first instance, I think we have to use some of these sessions with a bit of introspection and retrospection of who we are, what we do to each other, and how we’re going to move forward in this new environment,” he reiterated.

Initial consultations commenced in October 2021, which saw engagement with local Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, heads of service agencies, and regulatory bodies. Over the coming days, additional consultations will be held with regulatory bodies countrywide as the sensitisation process continues.

Permanent Secretary, Andre Ally, CHPA’s Chief Executive Officer Sherwyn Greaves, and Single Window Consultant Fareed Amin also delivered remarks.