The approval process for construction projects needs to be streamlined to meet the needs of the 21st century, Chairperson of Bahamas Engineers, Architects and Allied Professionals (BEAAP) Sonia Brown said yesterday.
Brown, who is also the principal of Graphite Engineering Limited, said there is a gap that needs to be filled between foreign direct investors and local professionals in the construction industry.
“We feel there are a lot of pent-up opportunities resting on desks in government agencies, projects that are waiting to be approved. They could be a foreign direct investment project or they could be a single family dwelling. Our approval process needs to meet the 21 century demands, it should be online, it should be streamlined and it should be timely. Those are some of the changes we desperately need,” she said on Guardian Radio talk show “Morning Blend” yesterday.
“I have been the beneficiary of being able to work on very large projects, the redevelopment of the international airport, the Baha Mar project, that was in part due to legislation being passed, the Engineers Act and we also have the Architects Act that ensures that a local professional is ultimately responsible for any project that happens in the country.
“I think where we have a gap is that these investors coming in don’t always know who is out there. So that’s one of the reasons for forming BEAAP, so that there is more awareness of the professionals who are out there. So we have a part to play. But we could also include from the level of the Bahamas Investment Authority, we should ask these FDI projects, especially when they are given a list of requirements, how come they are not asked to identify their construction
professional? They’re asked for other things like their lawyer.”
Licensed architect Marcus Laing of TDG Architect Ltd. added that there needs to be more involvement of Bahamian consultant professionals in the industry to ensure Bahamians have opportunities, because they are just as qualified as foreign contractors.
“It’s really making use of the talent that’s here, allowing our government and institutions to prioritize for these personnel. The funny thing is you have a lot of times where an entity comes in, a foreign direct investment project and their personnel are inefficient, insufficient and lacking and they still end up leaning on the local professionals. So there’s a lot to be gained by having the locals involved,” he said.
Laing said streamlining the approval process not only improves the ease of doing business, but enhances government revenues.
“Those things tie in directly to the GDP as well. Income for the government through taxes, contractors being able to get projects and execute projects, all of those things tie into what we’re trying to do,” he said.
Their comments came ahead of a webinar slated for Thursday, during which industry stakeholders will discuss “Reimagining The Construction Industry: Driving Innovation and Change”. The keynote speaker will be Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.