JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, has given an undertaking that expansion of the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP), would continue, and that the Government would seek to, under the Facilities for Titles Act, attract additional financial and mortgage-lending institutions.
Mr. Golding was responding, yesterday (November 25), to a Motion put forward in the House of Representatives by Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Reverend Ronald Thwaites, which was later affirmed by the House of Representatives.
The Motion proposed that LAMP be reviewed and extended to other parishes as a priority; and that the scope of the Facilities for Titles Act be amended, so as to encompass not only People’s Co-operative (PC) Banks, but other financial and mortgage-granting institutions.
The Prime Minister noted that land is an asset that can be effectively used to create significantly more wealth, and noted that the absence of a title, severely curtails the “transactional ability” of property to create that wealth.
“It is estimated that there are some 750,000 parcels of land scattered across Jamaica.I believe the number is even more, because some of those parcels have subsequently been fragmented into various bits and pieces. We have on the books, a little over 400,000 registered titles, which means that more than half of the land owners out there, are without titles,” Mr. Golding informed.
He pointed out that the inadequacies of past legislation had informed the introduction of LAMP in 2005, which began with a pilot project, which covered St. Catherine, but excluded Portmore. Mr. Golding said the results have been mixed, with some achievements, but “nowhere near what I think was expected.”
Mr. Golding informed that some 30,000 parcels of land were identified in St. Catherine under the programme, which has seen 29,804 parcels mapped. Of that number, 18,589 parcels required clarification, meaning they were already registered, but boundaries had to be properly identified. Meanwhile, 11,215 were on registered land, which required regularisation. In addition, 4,552 required sub-division; 239 subdivisions (involving 1,335 individual parcels), have been prepared, and of that number, 1,284 lots in 215 subdivisions, have been lodged.
“So far, 34 subdivisions involving 169 lots have been approved and 60 subdivisions involving 358 lots have been refused for a variety of reasons. In some instances it involved transfer from one person to another.there were 1,614 such parcels. Of that number, 1,265 transfers have been prepared; 561 transfers have been lodged and of that number, 538 have been completed,” the Prime Minister outlined. He noted that some of these involve estates of persons who have died, many intestate.
Mr. Golding said that despite the progress, “the disappointment is that when you look at the overall (programme), less than 1,000 titles have been produced. There are a number of additional titles that are being produced as we speak. It is anticipated that we will be able to issue another 2,600 certificates of titles, those being for first registration, over a 12-month period, and another 850 can be clarified.” Meanwhile, he disclosed that over 3,000 additional files are awaiting the delivery of cadastral map sheets from the Survey and Mapping Division of the National Land Agency.
The Prime Minister noted that both institutional and procedural challenges have inhibited the Programme. “The National Land Agency has limited capacity. They have been providing assistance in terms of carrying out the surveys that are required, but they have a capacity, which can only produce, in order to complete the surveys, some 450 per year, and based on the numbers estimated in St. Catherine alone, at 450 per year, it would take 20 years just to complete the parish,” Mr. Golding explained.
He said an alternative approach is to use private surveyors and that land-owners have been encouraged to do so.
Mr. Golding said that a proposal had been made for the proceeds of sale of lands by the Commissioner of Lands to be committed to support the programme, which would enable the hiring of private surveyors to speed up the process. “The difficulty with that, of course, is that the National Land Agency’s provision in the budget, has to be supported by appropriations in aid, which essentially are the proceeds of the sale of land. So, it ends up being a budgetary call, and it is something we are going to try to see if we can find some space (for), in order to provide the resources that they need, as the programme is expanded,” he added.
Another major impediment, Mr. Golding pointed out, is the cost involved. He noted that LAMP has exempted registration from transfer tax and stamp duties, which has cost, since the start of the programme, $500 million.
Turning to what has been done to expand the programme to the rest of the island, he informed that LAMP was expanded to major sections of St. Thomas in November 2007; and to Manchester, St. Elizabeth and St. James. On August 20 this year, it was expanded to the entire parish of Clarendon. “The intention is to do exactly what the member has asked, to expand it across the island, but we need to be realistic. It would be a good thing to do it, because it means that those individuals in the other parishes, who may be able to find some resources, would be able to benefit from the special provisions that are made under the LAMP programmes,” Mr. Golding said.
Turning to the call for the Facilities for Titles Act, to be amended to expand the list of approved lenders, the Prime Minister said the Act would not have to be amended, as it gives the relevant Minister the power to approve lending institutions.
Meanwhile, Mr. Golding said one of the things that would facilitate the expansion of LAMP is the national cadastral map, on which some work has been done. “Much more work needs to be’s very expensive, and it’s going to take us quite some time. It would facilitate the establishment of the boundaries by survey of individual parcels of land,” he said.
He further informed the House that the National Contracts Commission has approved the award of the contract to establish GPS virtual reference stations, which would facilitate the cadastral mapping of the entire island. Work is currently in progress on that $33 million project, which it is hoped, would be completed by the end of January 2009.

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