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Bannister: Govt targeting lengthy building permit approval process

Criticisms about the time it takes for work permits to be issued persist, and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister told Guardian Business yesterday that this issue continues to persist as the ministry works toward automating much of the process, after going out to tender for a company to provide the solution.

In an opinion piece submitted to The Nassau Guardian, commercial and residential real estate developer Sebas Bastian lamented the time it still takes to move his projects forward, complaining in the opinion piece that it is not uncommon to wait longer than six months for the approval of building permits.

“As an experienced real estate developer, with both residential and commercial properties as a part of our portfolio at Brickell Management Group, I echo the recent concerns expressed about the lengthy delays for the approval of building permits,” Bastian said.

“I acknowledge the government’s stated commitment to slashing the time taken to obtain building permits by 75 percent, but based on the comments made by Gustavus Ferguson, president of the Institute of Bahamian Architects (IBA), we are still a long way off from realizing this policy goal.

“As Mr. Ferguson stated recently in a local daily, just like in the U.S., construction is a vital component in ‘stimulating the Bahamian economy and getting the money to flow’.”

Bannister explained that the government has already gone to tender on the new automated system for the Ministry of Public Works, and is now awaiting Cabinet’s decision on the responses that were received.

“We hope the whole process will be improved,” said Bannister. “Once we put the automation in place it won’t involve as much human interaction. It’s not a simple process but it is something that we’re looking to improve.”

Bannister explained that The Bahamas’ building code is a very strict one and will still require building inspectors to go out to sites to ensure things are up to code. But he said on that front there have been some improvements as well through the procurement of new vehicles for those inspectors.

Bastian said in his opinion piece that the government must take its commitment to reducing the amount of time it takes to acquire a building permit seriously, “for the health of the Bahamian economy and the benefit of Bahamian consumers”.

“As a Bahamian developer, I stand ready to assist the government in any way I can to improve the ease of doing business in this sector,” Bastian said.

“I am sure I can speak for the many other professions and businesses whose livelihoods depend on the housing market when I say, we all stand ready.”

Bastian: I stand ready to assist the government

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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