Automation is set to have a major impact on the Construction Permitting System in Trinidad and Tobago in 2019

The Construction Permitting System is Trinidad and Tobago is spread across multiple regulatory agencies. A grant of planning permission from the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) is the first step in the process. Other key agencies involved in construction permitting in Trinidad and Tobago include the fourteen (14) Municipal Corporations which issue building and subdivision permits and completion certificates, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) which approves water and sewage connections as well as plumbing systems within buildings, and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) which is responsible for environmental approvals.

These bodies along with the fifteen (15) other regulatory agencies have a big, complex role to fulfil on behalf of the entire citizenry, which is made more difficult by the mundane and entirely manual and paper based workflows they carry out. Over 90% of processes rely on paper, not electronic data.

The World Bank Group (WBG), under its ‘Dealing with Construction Permits’ indicator, ranks Trinidad and Tobago’s system as 149th out of 190 economies and estimates that our current construction permit process takes a total of 253 business days, almost a full business year, and consists of 16 separate procedures.

To address the issues, in January 2017 the decision was taken to pursue the Automation of the Construction Permitting project, under the Inter- American Development Bank (IADB) ‘Ease of Doing Business Programme’ of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).


What is Automation

The Automation Project aims to improve the efficiency of the construction permitting system through the creation of an online system for the submission, tracking, and processing of the permit applications in a reduced time frame and with fewer procedures. This system will also facilitate better communication and engagement with applicants via mobile phone and online portals, and between permitting agencies using mobile apps and cloud-based services.

Digital transformation is pervading every industry, and many government agencies have made efforts to improve service delivery through online portals. Just by integrating existing hardware with document management and workflow automation software, agencies can automate many of the manually-intensive and repetitive steps. The exposure, errors and delays associated with some of the current processes can be reduced or eliminated, while also freeing up staff for more demanding strategic and technical work.

The project takes a customer-centric approach to service design and delivery, which combines applicant and staff concerns to reveal and address pain points in the system.


What you have told us about the Customer Journey


Adopted from “The Citizen in Coproduction: The case of the Town and Country Planning Division of Trinidad and Tobago” Co- Production study at TCPD 2016- 2017 (Bailey, Hinds and Lall, 2017)


Phase I Project Details

Consultants          : Crimson Logic

Completion Date : November 2019

Expected Impacts

  1. Enhanced Level of Service and responsiveness to applicants
  2. Standardisation of forms and requirements across agencies
  3. Increased accountability and transparency to staff and applicants
  4. Optimized workflows and increased procedural efficiency
  5. Increased staff productivity
  6. Reduction in customer complaints and the time taken for applicants to issue permits
  7. Increase in T&T’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking Index