Environment Minister in the Dominican Republic – Miguel Ceara Hatton announced people can now apply online for Ministry of Environment permits. The new Virtual Environmental Authorization System is an online platform that seeks to speed up and make requests for environmental authorizations for works, projects and economic activities transparent. People now will be able to follow up with the status of their documents, who is handling or processing the document, how long the document has been in who’s desk, and who is the consultant or the promoter of the project, among other relevant details.
Present for the launching of the online platform at the Ministry of Environment were:
Presidency Minister Joel Santos Echavarría; Housing and Buildings Minister Carlos Bonilla and the Public Administration Minister Darío Castillo Lugo. Also present were Peter Prazmowski, executive director of the National Competitiveness Council and coordinator of the Zero Bureaucracy Program, and Bartolomé Pujals, head of the Government Office of Information and Communication Technologies (OGTIC).
In addition to Ceara Hatton, the Deputy Ministers of Environmental Management and Soil and Water, Indhira de Jesús and René Mateo, answered the questions of those present. The event was attended by representatives of various government ministries, as well as the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (Asonahores), the National Business Support Network for Environmental Protection (Ecored) and the Chamber of Oil Mining.
The platform was developed by the Information Technology and Communication of the Environment Agency, headed by Luz Felix. In a first phase, the platform will handle environmental permits for new projects submitted to the Environmental Evaluation and Impact, of the Deputy Ministry of Environmental Management.
“What we are inaugurating here today is a step forward and a transformation of what this Ministry has been doing,” said Ceara Hatton.
“One of the weakest points we had, and I think we still have, is the issue of permitting. Both the permits that are processed through environmental management, as well as the permits that are processed for mining,” he added.
“Since I arrived here, everyone told me that this was a problem, that it lent itself to things being done badly, that decisions took too long, that no progress was made, that it was very difficult, and sometimes we encountered internal resistance. And little by little, progress was made, and today we have been able to present results, which will certainly be improved,” he said.
He explained that processing the permits and carrying out the studies for a given project takes time because it goes beyond a stamp on a document. In this sense, he recalled that an environmental impact study can be thousands of pages long. He indicated that people sometimes “do not understand the complexity of the process involved. An environmental permit is something important in this country because we are making decisions in such a way that these decisions do not have negative consequences in relation to the environment.”
Bartolomé Pujols highlighted that the online platform launched by the Environment is part of Zero Bureaucracy, a government initiative that “is fulfilling the role of being a wall against corruption and a wall against inefficiency, but at the same time it is a bridge towards transparency and good administration.”