The days of long waits for planning permission to be granted in Barbados may be at an end.
Today in the Senate, the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was passed and according to Senator Kay McConney, it will address a “bugbear” which has plagued the country for much too long.
She pointed out that the amendments sought to strengthen the Planning and Development Act passed in January 2019,
Leading off debate on the bill, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology said the new legislation would bring together all of the agencies involved in the planning process.
“Certainly if these amendments do pass, one important thing that it would usher in is a more collaborative effort that would see the various authorities that have input into the planning process working more closely together as opposed to disparately as they are doing now. They would be able to leverage technology to deliver a higher level of efficiency than we have seen, greater transparency in the decision-making process and a greater ease of doing business with the public,” McConney said.
She acknowledged that the excessively long waits for planning permission had frustrated both Barbadian and international investors.
McConney said the island had lost potential business because of the lengthy waiting times and was one of the reasons Barbados was ranked 128 out of 190 countries on the Ease of Doing Business Index 2019.
“You will recall that an inordinately long wait for planning approvals and permissions has been a bugbear for professionals, for individuals alike, whether local or international, who are seeking to invest in Barbados and to build anything from a regular family house to a major structure. The hurdles, regulatory process and in some cases human hurdles have made it very difficult for investors and professionals and everyday people to move their projects through the Town and Country Planning Department and associated agencies and I am told that one would not in many cases get fast service unless one perhaps knew somebody who could pull a string,” she noted.
“And this has been longstanding. We are seeking to address that at this time. This long delay, string-pulling process which could and often did get caught up in the decision-making that did not always seem fair and transparent to some people. It has impacted Barbados’ reputation, it has impacted our attractiveness as a place to do business and our competitiveness globally.
“It has really and truly stymied our country’s ability to move faster and to put in place the infrastructure and services necessary to stimulate and facilitate certain aspects of growth.
“There are stories of international investors who have pulled up stumps and have walked away from Barbados with their money and their goodwill and also unfortunately their frustration in tow after waiting for years in some cases to have multi-million dollar investments or even simple adjustments that they want to make to structures approved,” McConney added.
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