Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said yesterday the implementation of the new electronic permit review and inspection system (EPRIS) will boost and streamline developments by foreign and domestic investors.
Bannister announced last week that Tyler Technologies was awarded the contract to develop the software, which is expected to significantly reduce the time it takes to have a permit issued by the Minister of Public Works and enhance the ability of applicants or their agents to track the progress of their applications.
“The current time that it takes to process a building permit is estimated to be on average 55 to 75 days, that’s approximately eight to 10 weeks. That’s a significantly long time when a project needs to move forward and other approvals must be obtained from various ministries and agencies,” he said during a virtual press conference yesterday.
“I am pleased to advise that the implementation of the EPRIS program will allow for all of the agencies involved in the building permit process to review drawings concurrently, which is expected to reduce the processing time of residential applications to 15 days or two weeks; and commercial applications to 30 days or one month on average.”
Bannister said the system, which has been in the pipeline for the past eight years, is expected to be implemented in six months.
He called EPRIS critical toward improving the ease of doing business in The Bahamas.
“As you would all be aware, it has been this government’s mandate to improve substantially the ease of doing business in the country. An important part of achieving this objective is the improvement in the processing of construction permits, which I am advised has the Commonwealth of The Bahamas ranked 77 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2020 on ‘dealing with construction permits,’” he said.
“This anticipated reduction in the time it takes to receive a building permit is anticipated to improve our ranking significantly in this area and thus result in greater economic activity. It is foreshadowed that as construction starts to increase, the enhanced resulting economic activity would mean more construction jobs and investment opportunities being made available in the country.”
When this system is fully implemented it is expected to allow real-time tracking of permit applications, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping for plan review and inspection processing, automated permit fee calculations and online payments and therefore improve customer service through the availability and tracking of permit status.
“This system is going to be a boost for everything related to this aspect of what we do and it is absolutely critical. It is going to assist us in many, many respects. With the construction boom that is going on in the country, it can only help in every significant way.” stressed Bannister.