NASSAU, The Bahamas — For the past three-years a significant portion, more than 50 per cent of the Ministry of Works capital budget, which includes asset maintenance, was expended on the New Providence Road Improvement Project, the Airport Gateway Project and the QESC facilities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development the Hon. Philip Davis made the revelations while presenting his Contribution to the 2013/2014 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, Monday, June 17, 2013.
“In moving forward (after completion of the mentioned major projects,) the Government would wish to reduce the level of under investment in asset maintenance throughout the country (specifically the Family Islands), which also has the potential to reduce costs in the long-term.”
The Deputy Prime Minister said the Capital Budget allocation of the Ministry of Works & Urban Development will assist in bringing the mentioned major projects (the Airport Gateway Project) and the New Providence Road Improvement Project) to conclusion.
“Additionally, funding is provided for general road construction/repair on New Providence in the amount of $3.5 million, and $10 million for general road construction/repair in the Family Islands.”
He added that the latter total would facilitate road works at Cat Island, Exuma, North Andros, Acklins and San Salvador.
Department of Physical Planning
Deputy Prime Minister Davis said the Department of Physical Planning will move to more spacious accommodation in the upcoming budget year as its current location on the ground floor of the Ministry’s J. F. Kennedy building is too small to facilitate all of the functions of that department.
In addition to its relocation, the Department’s plans, beginning in the new budget year, will include:
Recruitment of additional technical staff, training and re-training;
Implementation of a more simplified planning system;
Preparation of new zoning orders to facilitate redevelopment of the Downtown area; and, protection of environmentally and historically significant areas;
Preparation of new sign (advertisement) regulations which are to be added to the Planning & Subdivision Act;
Implementation of a new fee structure for planning applications; and,
Publication of the Department’s first annual report.
He said the recurrent expenditure allocation for the Department of Physical Planning is $1.4 million.
The Deputy Prime Minister said with further reference to the Department of Physical Planning, its work is closely tied to that of the Department of Public Works and the Building Control Section relative to building permits and other planning activities.
“It is to be noted that in the 2012 World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ survey, The Bahamas was ranked 79/183 countries globally and 7/7 countries regionally relative to obtaining all necessary approvals for a construction permit.
“While some aspects on the time required in completing this process are justified, efforts are ongoing on the part of all of these departments to reasonably reduce the turn-around time in processing building construction applications.”
He explained that to this end, during February 2013, representatives from these departments along with representatives from the Department of Environment Health Services and the Department of Information Technology travelled to Florida for a demonstration of the Concurrent Plan Processing system utilised by the Dade County Building Department.
Deputy Prime Minister Davis said this system facilitates the viewing and cross-referencing of documentation (e.g. architectural plans) in electronic format (CDs) by all relevant departments simultaneously, resulting in reduced processing time.
“In the case of residential construction, Dade County is able (through this technology) to complete plan review within a period of one week.
“This is in stark contrast to our current plan review procedures where the documents (paper) must be sequentially relayed from one location/department to another.”
He said Cabinet would review the report on this proposed system shortly.
He also noted that in other efforts to enhance efficiency through technology, the Ministry along with the Department of Public Works is in the process of upgrading the existing computer network.
This project commenced last week, and is expected to enhance connectivity and ensure reliability of the system.