Last update: 11-Dec-2013 5:59 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Local govt to get more planning power
Long and frustrating delays in getting building approvals will be a thing of the past as the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Local Government have embarked on a joint effort to decentralise planning to municipal authorities. Through this collaboration citizens will soon be able to take advantage of improved application processes for land use and development.
Planning Minister Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie and Local Government Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, along with representatives from both ministries, met on August 14 at the Ministry of Planning’s Head Office to discuss matters relating to the decentralisation of the planning capacity of government to give more autonomy and authority to municipal corporations and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
The Planning and Facilitation of Development Bill, which will soon go to Cabinet for approval, seeks to simplify the decentralisation process. Although some headway has been made in easing the backlog in recent months, long delays and lack of transparency continue to be problems with the current system. This has led to undermining of the planning process as the lack of transparency in getting approvals has led to illegal construction and unplanned development.
Tewarie said in the past central governments had been unwilling to devolve power to local government but under the new legislation structures and systems will be put in place to facilitate the smooth transition of the devolution of planning power to the Corporations. Rambachan was in full support of the purpose and objectives of the legislation and said it was a welcomed opportunity to revitalise the corporations by creating and developing new internal structures.
These structures clearly defined the roles and responsibilities corporations will undertake to ensure the success of the devolution processes. The Municipal Corporation will be able to approve simple developments. The bill will also ensure that a system is set up to secure predictability, simplicity, promptness and transparency in the treatment of development applications.
Town and Country Planning Division will go through a transformation as part of the devolution of planning power to the Municipal Corporations. The devolution process, which is detailed in the National Spatial Development Strategy document, will employ planners to review and approve developments. This will assist in speeding up procedures that would alleviate problems previously encountered by citizens applying for land use and building approvals.
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