The process of doing business in Guyana will see significant enhancements to the benefit of local and foreign investors.
In a bid to modernise and reduce red tape regarding planning and building permits, the Ministry of Housing and Water through the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA), on Wednesday, signed the contract to the tune of $202.9 million for the development and implementation of an Information Technology (IT) Solution for the Single-Window Planning and Development System. This electronic system is expected to be implemented by June 2023.
Through the National Competitive Bidding process, the contract was awarded to Global Services Inc., a consortium of companies based in Guyana, North America and the United Arab Emirates.
Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal; Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues; Chairman of the Board of Directors for CHPA, Dr. Emanuel Cummings; Chief Executive Officer of CHPA, Mr. Sherwyn Greaves; President of Global Services Inc. Mr. George Melville and other officials were present at the ceremony, which was held at the Ministry’s Headquarters. Other representatives from the contacting service also joined the signing ceremony virtually.
Minister Croal expressed confidence in the contracting service, as he highlighted its unique expertise and experience with similar projects with the Dubai Development Authority, Qatar, Bahrain, Ontario and Jamaica etc.
“They bring a unique combination of skills to this Single Window initiative, they understand spatial, as well as the technology dimensions. This is important to us since we are using technology as an enabler to create transparency, accountability and predictability in our land use planning system,” the Minister stated.
Minister Croal further stated that the system will focus on five key elements, namely: 1. providing one-window access for CHPA to act as a single point of entry for planning; 2. dashboards allowing staff to monitor the status of individual applications; 3. application tracking allowing users/applicants to make submissions and track application progress; 4. deadlines and escalations to enable timely processing of applications; and 5. scalability to ensure that the IT solution can accommodate increased application volumes, staff changes, and be configured to accommodate changes to evolving workflows. Moreover, the Bill for the Planning and Development Single-Window System was tabled earlier in the month, at the 52nd Sitting of the National Assembly. Minister Croal stated that it is expected to be passed at the next sitting of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Minister Rodrigues in her remarks said that the technological advancement is historic in the housing sector and removes the need for investors having to go to several agencies such as the Guyana Fire Service, Environmental Protection Agency etc, and waiting long periods of time. The Minister also underscored the transparency of the system, as she stated that it removes all aspects of bias.
Minister Rodrigues affirmed, “we are removing all subjectivity from the system. No Guyanese or investor will have to fear that any form public official will deny their application because the public official doesn’t like them or any of that”.
She noted that this is important for attracting investors to Guyana and improving the nation’s economy.
The contract was signed by the Chief Executive Officer of CHPA, Mr. Greaves and the President of Global Services Inc, Mr. George Melville. Mr. Greaves stated that CHPA has made notable achievements in the housing sector throughout the past few years with more than 20,000 house lots allocated since 2020. In 2023, he said that the agency expects to make several other investments in new and existing schemes.
Photos: Sydel Thomas, CHPA PR Dept.