THE EDITOR, Sir:
If God could cause a miracle to occur and wave his wand and say "abracadabra" and all the building plans crawling through the system were instantly approved, we could put at least 20,000 Jamaicans to work. Such an event could turn the economy around and perhaps we could see growth in gross domestic product for the first time in many years.
A small group of us has been trying to establish a low-income housing development of 30 units since 2007, for which we made a formal application for building approval on March 12, 2012, after overcoming many obstacles. To date, we have not been able to secure a building approval, and the authorities are unable to tell us when we can expect or be denied approval - a period of 19 months.
Building approvals can be made quite simple and efficient if the powers that be should so desire. I would like to set out here in a seven-point programme through which most approvals can be achieved in 48 hours.
1. A booklet should be created setting out the laws that govern approvals islandwide, stating what can be done where, when and how. Such a booklet would include the current building code.
2. Politicians should have absolutely nothing to do with approvals. It should be the domain of competent technocrats.
3. All persons dealing with approvals should be in one location where each officer signs off on his/her area of expertise. These persons are to be rotated from time to time so that others learn the process, as well as eliminating the possibility of corruption. Jamaica is small enough to have only one approval body located in Kingston. Back-up services can be obtained from the parish councils if required.
4. Approvals should be carried out daily rather than the absur-dity of having monthly approval meetings.
5. At any time one can go online and find out the status of one's project and act accordingly.
6. Projects submitted by unqualified persons are automatically rejected without examination, particularly those of a public or commercial use.
7. Set up an appeals board of five to seven persons to meet once per week whose decision is final. Parliament may, however, have the right to waive a rule in the interest of the people.
If the above process is employed, all corruption will evaporate and most approvals will take place in less than two weeks, even for large and complicated projects.