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JIS News

To enable the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) to better serve its many clients, consideration is being given to expanding the complement of staff.
LAMP, which operates out of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), was established by the government in 2000, out of a need to assist individuals secure titles for lands they occupied, for which they have no formal documentation of ownership.
The programme is currently being executed in four parishes – St. Elizabeth, Clarendon, St. Thomas, and St. Catherine – which served as the pilot project during the initial six years. Two additional parishes, Manchester and St. Mary, are soon to be declared LAMP areas. The move to expand LAMP’s cadre of personnel is regarded as timely, in light of consideration which is being given to expanding the programme to other parishes.
LAMP’s Project Director, Gloria Brown, tells JIS News that the agency currently has 45 members of staff, who operate from the agency’s offices situated at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hope Gardens, St. Andrew, as well as from stakeholder institutions partnering with them in St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas, Manchester and Clarendon.
The team comprises drivers, legal officers, paralegal officers and administrative staff. However, she notes that this number is inadequate, based on the extent of work being undertaken in the parishes under the programme.
“As it is now, we are stretched to the limit. We have nearly half the cadre of staff out in the field constantly. They are dispatched from base (because) we don’t have field offices.so that’s a challenge,” she informs.
Ms. Brown adds that with consideration being given to expanding LAMP to other parishes, “there must be increased capacity right across the island.”
The Project Director contends that despite the need for additional personnel, LAMP is currently able to execute its activities and meet the needs of clients in a timely manner.
Ms. Brown informs that the agency has been able to schedule designated meeting days from Mondays and Thursdays between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. in three of the four parishes – St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and St. Thomas.
She says that on Mondays, members of the team are at the St. Aidian’s Anglican Church, Bull Savannah, St. Elizabeth; Tuesdays – Battersea/Clarke’s Town Community Centre, Manchester, and the Old Harbour Bay Baptist Church, St. Catherine; Wednesdays – the National Housing Trust (NHT) office, 109 Main Street, Santa Cruz; Pedro Plains Seventh Day Church of God, Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth; Port Morant Methodist and Trinity Baptist Church, Morant Bay, St. Thomas; Thursdays – Balaclava Community Centre; St. John’s Anglican Church, Black River, St. Elizabeth; Yallahs Seventh Day Adventist Church, and Faith Baptist Church, Seaforth, St. Thomas; and Bethel Open Bible Church, Osbourne Store, Clarendon.
Since its inception in 2000, LAMP has seen upwards of 3,000 parcels of land being registered and titles updated, while a further 10,000 parcels are at various stages of processing. The pilot, which ran until 2006 when LAMP was institutionalised and became an agency, incorporated all of St. Catherine, except Portmore, with registration and titling updates ongoing in those areas.
Ms. Brown informs that under the pilot, some 30,000 parcels of land were surveyed in areas such as Old Harbour, Sligoville, Point Hill, Above Rocks and Bog Walk. “So, we have very good cadastral maps for a large portion of (the parish),” she states, pointing out that despite completion of the pilot, the “varied” and “complex’ issues that have surfaced, have resulted in a continuation of work in St. Catherine.
She points out that most individuals benefitting under LAMP have indicated that they are “extremely satisfied” with the services provided.
“There are beneficiaries who have indicated that they have been trying to get titles for 30 to 40 years, and LAMP has been able to secure titles for a number of individuals within six months. So, we have an extremely satisfied clientele,” the Project Director informs.
Ms. Brown cites the need to educate landholders on the importance of estate planning and treating with land transactions, particularly property registration and titling, and the making of wills, lamenting that “it is surprising.the number of persons who do not have any knowledge about buying and selling land.” In this regard, plans are afoot by the agency to undertake an islandwide public education campaign, targeting beneficiaries and stakeholder agencies.
Public Relations Officer for LAMP, Marcia Rodriquez, tells JIS News that the agency is seeking to incorporate the relevant stakeholders at all levels of its work. Key focus areas, she points out, include laws pertaining to: succession; transfer tax and stamp duty; subdivision; and property ownership, “because we find that many people are ignorant of these laws.”
“It’s an ongoing process that we continue to streamline. Almost all the consultations between LAMP, beneficiaries and stakeholder agencies take place in the communities. We have a very strong presence in the communities .where we have meetings with beneficiaries and stakeholders every week at different venues in our project areas. We also distribute brochures, leaflets and pamphlets all over our project areas,” Ms. Rodriquez says.
She mentions the National Housing Trust (NHT), Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) and People’s Co-operative (PC) Banks among the agencies collaborating with LAMP.
Ms. Rodriquez is urging landholders with property in LAMP areas, who are not currently in possession of a title, or have had existing titles updated, to take advantage of the benefits being provided under the programme.
“All fees charged under the project are based on the unimproved value of the land on the tax roll. I encourage them to remember that, in most situations, they will pay no transfer tax or stamp duty (on land acquired by way of gift) as well as no estate duty. Those are tremendous benefits for them to consider.there is much to be gained,” she says.