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Wednesday the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and Global Services Inc. signed a $202.9 million contract for the single-window system. The single-window system is expected to be online by early July 2023. A hybrid system will be employed in the initial stages, and the transition will gradually be made to the fully electronic system.
The signing was conducted at the Ministry of Housing and Water’s boardroom, Brickdam, Georgetown by CH&PA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sherwyn Greaves, and Global Services contractor and representative, George Melville.
The government said the system will enable CH&PA to act as a point of entry, allowing planning and development applicants to submit information to a single electronic submission point, rather than having the hassle of dealing with multiple agencies and processes.
It is expected that with the establishment of the system, contractors in the planning and development sector will see a reduction in the bureaucracy they previously encountered when submitting applications to CH&PA.
The government touted the initiative as one that will see a conversion to an electronic system, the construction and upgrading of infrastructure to accommodate the system, and time efficiency.
The system is also expected to provide dashboards that allow staff to monitor the status of individual applications and generate reports as needed, allows users to track the progress of their applications post-submission, and streamlines processes through deadline and escalation functions.
Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry, Susan Rodrigues said presently the process is cumbersome and the single-window system will bring relief to entrepreneurs.
According to her, “[t]here are a whole host of agencies that you have to go to in order to track your application, and you have to do this in person. With each agency, you have to submit different applications with various requirements. This tremendously eases that process of doing business, where you will present your completed application at a single window, and that is what this IT solution will facilitate.”
To boost efficiency, the system is expected to contain a unique time-bound system to ensure agency representatives respond within a particular amount of time, with unaddressed applications being automatically approved.
Subjectivity and corruption are also expected to be addressed with this new model, and applicants will be able to view the status and response to their applications, whether it has been denied or accepted.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government which has a poor track record with transparency and accountability said the system and its accompanying legislation will foster transparency and accountability at the administrative level.
Minister Croal speaking on the project said the government’s transformational agenda does not only encompass physical aspects, but involves the development of systems and policies that help us to move forward as a country.
He explained that the team from Global Services will ensure an easily navigational interface for the platform. Throughout the programme’s implementation, the consortium will continuously map, reassess and re-engineer the platform so that it runs efficiently for all parties involved, he informed.
A steering committee is expected to oversee the operations of the companies involved, to ensure deadlines and budgetary allocations are met.
Earlier this month, the Single-Window Bill was read for the first time in the National Assembly.
The Bill also seeks to provide for the establishment of the Planning Oversight Committee, to define the functions of the committee, centralise functions relating to land use preparation and development, and matters associated with it.
Once the legislation is in place, it is expected, among other things, to standardise application forms and checklists, as well as reduce the time needed to complete a transaction.