In its last session before adjourning for the upcoming June elections, the House plenary on Thursday passed several laws having to do with such disparate issues as regulations relating to local government bodies or operating permits for hotels.

MPs voted through a part of the amendments to rules and regulations governing the functioning of new local government bodies to be formed under the new system of governance after the June elections. The first amendment concerned a transitional arrangement, allowing the District Self-Governance Organisations – to be created under the new system – to approve their own budgets along with the government, without requiring the nod from parliament. This transitional arrangement would apply for six months.

The second amendment related to appointments of the individuals heading up various local government services – such as sewerage boards or water boards – for a limited time until normal appointment procedures kick in.

The government had wanted to introduce several other last-minute amendments relating to local government, but MPs said no – not because they necessarily disagree with them but because there wasn’t enough time to study them thoroughly.

In other business, parliament approved a law extending the grace period for hotels lacking a full operating permit.

Hotels lacking such a permit now have until the end of 2024 to comply. To qualify for the extension, they must in the meantime submit their ‘as-built’ plans to the relevant authorities.

‘As-built’ plans show the building exactly as it currently is, as opposed to a design drawing which shows the intended or proposed layout of the building. They are revised sets of drawings submitted by a contractor upon the completion of the project. They reflect all the changes made during the construction process and provide an exact rendering of the finished product.

Back in March 2019, hoteliers had been given a five-year transitional period to secure an operating permit. The transitional period elapsed in March this year. It has now been extended by another six months.

Earlier this week, MPs heard that over 90 per cent of hotels lack a full operating license. The issue is that most hotels expanded their premises or made renovations during the tourism boom but did not secure the required permits for these alterations.