Change is coming to the Immigration and Town and Country Planning departments with a new minister to be assigned to clear bottlenecks, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said today.
Responding to concerns that the pace at which both departments processed applications affected business facilitation, Stuart said while the impression was given that they were “inflicted with some type of inertia” when dealing with business applications, often they were awaiting critical information in order to make informed decisions.
The Prime Minister, who also has the Immigration portfolio and responsibility for the Town and Country Planning Department, spoke during the question and answer segment of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (BCCI) monthly luncheon at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Darcy Boyce has responsibility for Energy, Immigration and Telecommunications and Invest Barbados.
“I am going to have a minister, not the Prime Minister, because Town Planning applications ultimately have to come to me as the final court of appeal as it were . . . but I am going to have a minister assigned to drive these processes, particularly the Immigration and the Town and Planning processes and make sure that the concerns of businesses, whenever raised, are pursued with single-mindedness so that wherever the bottlenecks are, those bottlenecks can be identified and removed as swiftly as possible without of course compromising the standards of the Immigration Department and the Town and Country Department,” explained Stuart.
He did not say if an additional member would be added to his Cabinet or if the responsibilities would be assigned to a current minister. Stuart also did not say when the changes would be made.
The Prime Minister admitted that there were human resource constraints at the Immigration Department, and promised to “put the bodies where they are needed” as Government’s financial position improves, but said he would be careful not to “bloat the public sector again”.
He reiterated that his administration would address the challenges relating to business facilitation, adding: “The best thing to do is have somebody to drive those processes, a point person who businesses can contact.” (MM)