In her State of the Island Address on March 8 this year, Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero said, “The Department of Revenue and Taxation issued over 1,500 new business licenses from March to September 2020.”
That’s wonderful, particularly in our current depressed economy and particularly since the whole permitting and licensing system has apparently slowed to a crawl since then.
For every business owner who is waiting for a business license for a new business, a new business location, or a new business line to receive approval since September, the governor’s announcement fell short of applause.
Nor does it help potential employees, some of whom are hanging on at the prospect of well-paying jobs or resorting to unemployment benefits.
Permitting on Guam was always a cumbersome business.
Businesses would trudge from one government agency to another around the island and — wait.
The One Stop Center at the Guam Department of Public Works may have helped to a degree, but not enough.
This issue of the Journal is littered with references to permit processing.
“And before this year is out, my administration will pilot a system of online business permitting — slashing wait times, harmonizing different agency requirements, ending long lines, and decreasing the uncertainty and permit lag time that slows and frustrates business growth,” Leon Guerrero also said in her address.
Former Gov. Carl T.C. Gutierrez has stepped forward to take on the process.
We are hopeful, but we don’t expect miracles — and for new systems to be set in place overnight.
Perhaps in the meantime, the former governor can find out where the bottleneck is at present. Any help would, well — help.
The problem may lie in the number of assigned employees, the need for several oversight agencies to make a physical inspection, the speed at which documents are processed — the options to make changes to move a complicated and multi-step process forward are endless.
Gutierrez has eight months “before the end of the year is out” to deliver.
But businesses do not have that luxury. mbj