INDEPENDENT SENATOR Hazel Thompson-Ahye challenged the Town and Country Planning Division to be firmer with stakeholders after the division complained to a virtual Joint Select Committee of Parliament meeting on Tuesday that users were reluctant to use the new tools, including online applications, introduced to help with ease of doing business.
“I must say, be careful with the gentle recommendations,” said Thompson-Ahye. “It is not working. We have to be firm. The time for gentle recommendations have passed.”
Town and Country is directly responsible for handling construction permits and is tasked with managing the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).
The Planning Ministry’s acting permanent secretary Ric Ali said the ministry, which is responsible for Town and Country, was “gently” reminding stakeholders of its responsibilities, prompting Thompson-Ahye’s retort.
Town and Country also complained of “hand-holding” needed to get stakeholders through the application process. Ali said not only are external stakeholders having issues conforming to new initiatives but public agencies, including ministries, as well.
Janyne Rattansingh, one of Town and Country’s acting research officers, said streamlining the approval process for construction permits via the Develop TT online portal is partially handled by Town and Country and partially by municipal corporations and the Ministry of Rural Development, as well as other stakeholders.
Rattansingh said the division discovered that each of the 14 municipal corporations has a different way to process applications.
“When you try to automate this it turns to chaos,” Rattansingh said.