Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Red-tape blues - PM laments slow pace of building approvals

Published:Friday | August 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Gleaner Writer
From left: Prime Minister Andrew Holness, assisted by little Hailey Crossley; IDB Caribbean General Manager Therese Turner-Jones; and President of the IDB Group Luis Alberto Moreno cut the ribbon at the official opening of the IDB’s newly constructed energy-efficient building at 6 Montrose Road in St Andrew, yesterday.

Amid the revelation that red tape stretched the construction of the Inter-American Development Bank's (IDB) regional office to nine years, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the regulatory systems of government need to operate more swiftly.

"Let us build a Usain Bolt bureaucracy for Jamaica," Holness said yesterday while addressing the official opening of the IDB's regional office located on Montrose Road in St Andrew, a stone's throw from his official residence, Vale Royal.

"... The next project is in the pipeline waiting on approvals, and the best thing we can do for them (members of the construction industry) in our own little way as civil servants, public servants, as technocrats, as bureaucrats is to move the approval process along within procedure and process, but swiftly," Holness said.

Therese Turner-Jones, general manager for the Caribbean Country Department of the IDB Group, told The Gleaner that the actual construction took less than seven months, and the project cost, including land, was a little more than US$13.5 million.

Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB Group, explained, "Part of the problem was that we went back and forth with this property because there were issues (related) to permits.

"There were zoning issues. We had to go through all the ups and downs of finding a final solution that would ensure that we would do a building that would coalesce with the neighbourhood."

The building, which has 1,680m2 of office space, was designed, constructed, and managed by Jamaicans. It houses 54 work stations and meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold standards through features such as solar panels, energy-efficient windows and building cladding, as well as water harvesting.

Turner-Jones said that the office would provide a platform for Jamaica to be the centre of gravity for Caribbean operations.

"This is a strategic move and an opportunity for Jamaica to continue to be our base, but be a centre for leadership ... . Jamaica will be the hub from which we will innovate ways to leapfrog development for the region," said Turner-Jones.

brian.walker@gleanerjm.com