Since 2016 Jamaica’s local authorities (municipal corporations) have processed 37,577 building applications with the value of those approved standing at more than $1 trillion.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie on Tuesday as he made his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate.
“It goes to show that in the scheme of things, Local Government is in the big league,” said McKenzie as he also pointed out that the global construction market was valued at US$12.7 trillion.
“It employs engineers, skilled and casual workers, artisans, and a wide range of goods and service providers,” he said.
“Housing projects cannot happen without local government. Commercial activity cannot happen without local government. Tourism, our biggest foreign exchange earner, cannot happen without local government,” McKenzie added.
He said local government was a “massive contributor to the new Jamaica that this administration is building”.
McKenzie told the House that a total of 5,945 applications were received for the 2022 calendar year, reflecting an investment value of $264.8 billion.
He also shared that there was a 150 per cent increase in the number of applications received for resort developments with 73 per cent being for larger resorts. There was also a five per cent increase in the number of commercial development applications, with 49 per cent of these applications being for larger developments.
“Additionally, there was a 5.4 per cent increase in the number of large residential development applications submitted,” McKenzie said.
The minister pointed out that there was no development, small or large, that is not subject to the development approvals process and boasted that the majority of applications are approved by the local authorities within 90 days.
“In fact, the approval rate has not dipped below 84 per cent in more than 10 years,” said McKenzie.
He noted that with structural safety, zonal compliance and environmental integrity being the most prominent issues when applications are considered, those for large and more complex developments, such as apartments and hotels, some of which are over 300 square metres in size, will take longer to assess.
“And in some cases have to be sent back for adjustments if they are to be approved”.
McKenzie also pointed out that Jamaica is located “squarely within an earthquake zone”.
In this regard, he said “our infrastructure has survived these tremors and quakes because of the rigor of the development approvals process. Development, public safety and environmental integrity must all go hand in hand, and the Government will never promote one element at the expense of the others”.