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A Memorandum of Understanding to provide a special loan facility through which Jamaicans can finance minimal fees charged for land titles under the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) was signed on Wednesday (Nov. 8) between the government and Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS). In welcoming the initiative, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller asked that interest charges be set at a reasonable rate so that loans can be more accessible to the poor.
The MOU was signed by the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Roger Clarke and General Manager of JNBS Mr. Earl Jarrett at the handing over of approximately 120 titles to beneficiaries in the parish of St. Catherine. Loans of up to $50,000 may be accessed through JN Small Business Loans offices islandwide.
In her address, Prime Minister Simpson Miller said that many Jamaicans had potential wealth in the lands they occupied, but that due to the absence of titles, they were unable to use these lands as collateral. She said land ownership was an issue which dates back to the days of slavery and that she was committed to empowering Jamaican land owners by ensuring that they had security of tenure.
“People need land and they need the security of tenure that a title guarantees,” the Prime Minister said.
She expressed concern that of an estimated 730,000 parcels of land in Jamaica, only 440,000 are registered. She said the problem lies in the cost of obtaining titles and that it was for this reason the LAMP has embarked on an islandwide exercise that would allow land owners to secure titles at reduced costs.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller stressed that the economic base of the country must be broadened and that this could be achieved by increasing land ownership among the majority of the people. She said it was for this reason that the government has given priority attention to land ownership as well as providing homes for more Jamaicans.
Mrs. Simpson Miller commended the LAMP project for its introduction of a Geographical Information System that facilitates the preparation of Cadastral Maps from which the titles are easily generated. A Special Provisions Act was also passed which substantially reduced the statutory fees involved in obtaining titles. Approximately 29,000 parcels of land in St. Catherine were surveyed at no cost to beneficiaries.
Since the beginning of the programme over 500 titles have been completed and handed over to beneficiaries. Mrs. Simpson Miller said the project is on target to hand over 4000 titles by April next year, as more Jamaicans were seeking to acquire titles under the new arrangements implemented by the LAMP project.
The LAMP project is funded jointly by the government and the Inter-American Development Bank and its representative who spoke at the function has expressed satisfaction with its implementation.