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A Bill to make special provisions for Cadastral Mapping and Tenure Clarification for the registration of titles in specified areas is now before the Lower House for consideration.
Land and Environment Minister Dean Peart, who tabled the legislation yesterday (June 8), said that the Bill would enable the implementation of the National Land Policy, which provides for the establishment of a framework for an efficient land management system in addition to facilitating the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP), which is funded jointly by the International Development Bank, the government of Jamaica.
The legislation, he said further, would allow the Minister to declare by order, a project area, and enable Cadastral Mapping Tenure Specification registration activities to be carried out and allow the Ministry to implement projects across the parishes resulting in the production of a cadastral map of the entire island.
The Land and Environment Minister noted that where possible, all unregistered parcels in the project area would be registered under the Registration of Titles Act. Furthermore, he said, “for the first time in Jamaica, landowners in the project area will be able to benefit from significant reductions in the cost of legal and surveying services for land registration.”
Other benefits, he pointed out, included a reduction in the cost of administration of estates, waiver of transfer tax, stamp duty and certain transactions including court documents and exemption and recording fees. This is in addition to providing registered land titles for owners, accurate and larger evaluation roles, and an improved ability to properly manage the country’s land resources.
Opposition Leader Bruce Golding, in his comments, said that while the Opposition readily recognized the efficiencies of the cadastral mapping mechanism there were still concerns about some of the provisions.He queried the method for setting boundaries since cadastral surveys could only identify boundaries that have already been set. “How are the boundaries going to be determined so that the survey can identify them to complete the cadastral map?” he queried.
Mr. Golding expressed concern about the provisions in place to allow landowners, who might be affected by the delineation of boundaries, to raise their concerns and questioned provisions under Section 5 of the Act, which empowers the Minister to override the provisions of the Local Improvements Act, the Natural Resources and Conservation Act, the Town and Country-Planning Act and authorize the registration of land without satisfying conditions under these Acts. Mr. Golding said that while he was not necessarily objecting to this, he was concerned about the enormous power granted to the Minister, which was not subject to checks or balances. “The exercise of this considerable power by the Minister is of concern to us,” he told the House.
The Opposition Leader also called for the re examination of the adjudication committee considering the rights and interests of persons on land issues.
He noted that the procedure for the establishment of the committee was not described in the statute and could not be done by way of Ministerial Order.
Debate on the Bill was suspended until a further date. Deputy Leader of Government Business Derrick Kellier said in light of comments made by the Opposition Leader and from consultation with the Land and Environment Minister further particulars were necessary before the closure of the debate.