JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, has announced that the Ministry was preparing a divestment manual, which, when completed and approved by Cabinet, would outline the policies and procedures for the divestment of government-owned lands.
Minister Clarke, who was responding to questions posed by Opposition Spokesperson on Finance, Audley Shaw, in the House of Representatives yesterday (Sept. 26), regarding the guidelines for the disposal of government property, informed that a consultant had been engaged to prepare the document and a draft policy framework has been submitted and was being reviewed by the National Land Divestment Committee.
The committee, he said, was a broad-based body, which has been established “to ensure that government-owned land is disposed fairly, equitably, and in a manner that will widen the land ownership of the country” and to review and evaluate applications for sale or lease of lands, and make recommendations to the Agriculture Minister for property to be divested.
Outlining the guidelines, Minister Clarke said that they addressed the procedures for the purchase of government-owned lands, the divestment of government houses to civil servants, and land settlements.
The procedure for purchasing government lands, he explained, stipulated that a prospective buyer will identify the location and particulars about the property in which there is an application made to the Commissioner of Lands.
Further to this, a business plan, setting out proposals for the use of the property, financing, and other related details, is also required.
Speaking further, Minister Clarke said, “if the land is available for sale or lease, the Commissioner of Lands will request a valuation and information in respect of the suitability of the land from other state agencies such as National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the National Water Commission (NWC), in order to ensure that the land will be developed in conformity with the permitted use.”
The Commissioner of Lands, will in turn, forward recommendations and so advise the Agriculture Minister before he makes a final decision to divest the land.
“Depending on the value and size of the property and the intended use, the Minister may contact the Cabinet,” Minister Clarke added.
As it regards divesting government houses to civil servants, he noted that the process varied slightly as “public servants who wish to purchase the properties occupied by them are required to apply to their relevant Ministry indicating interest.”
“As a general rule, the properties built for the use of public officers are not sold. However, the Ministry recommending sale of such properties will have to justify their sale,” he told the House.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, will in turn, forward the information on sale of the property to all Ministries, to determine need of the property for official use. “Once the Ministries indicate that there is no objection to the sale of the property, the application is reviewed by the Divestment Committee and a recommendation is submitted to the Minister,” he noted.
Turning to land settlement plots, the Agriculture Minister said this procedure would require the Commissioner of Lands to advertise the land and invite applications from prospective purchasers within a two-week time frame.
“The applications are processed by the NLA and interviews are often conducted with prospective applicants to ascertain their capability to use the land for its designated purpose,” he pointed out, adding that the National Divestment Committee then makes a recommendation to the Minister, who gives approval and decides on a final price.