In an effort to prevent corruption, robust measures have been included in the Planning and Development Bill 2019.
This assertion came from attorney-at-law and consultant, Christine Toppin-Allahar, as she gave an overview of the Bill on Tuesday, at a Stakeholder Review for the Planning and Development Bill 2019, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Ms. Toppin-Allahar said members of the Planning and Development Board and those on the appeal panels would have to declare any conflict of interest. She explained that serious punitive sanctions would be imposed on persons who offered and received bribes.
“It is not fair to penalize people for receiving the bribes if you do not also penalize the people who offer the bribes…and I think most people will agree with that,” she stated.
The consultant pointed out that to achieve efficiency and accountability, any additional information requirements from applicants must be asked for promptly and upfront by the Chief Town Planner.
“There can be no shifting of the goal post… At present, it is often a sequential process. You make your application; they ask you for this; you bring it; then they ask you for that…. That will no longer be allowed,” she stressed.
Ms. Toppin-Allahar pointed out that strict time limits had also been set for the processing of applications, including the inter agency consultations. According to her, uncomplicated applications should take no more than six weeks, while complex ones should take 10 weeks.
She explained that deadlines could only be extended with the consent of the applicant, as was the law, before it was deleted several years ago.
She said the Planning and Development Board would be the primary mechanism for decision-making about planning applications in Barbados, although the power of the Minister to deal with applications of strategic importance had been retained. She added that the Chief Town Planner would also make decisions on certain classes of applications.
Ms. Toppin-Allahar further stated that the work of receiving and analyzing planning applications would be in the hands of the Town Planning Department, which would have to make recommendations to the Minister, Board, or Chief Town Planner.