JIS News

The Senate on Friday (July 1) gave its approval to a Bill to make special provisions for cadastral mapping, tenure clarification and land registration in specified areas.
Information Minister Senator Burchell Whiteman who piloted the Bill said the provision was enabling legislation for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Government of Jamaica (GoJ) funded Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) and in furtherance of the implementation of the National Land Policy, which lobbies for the establishment of a framework for an efficient land management system.
Senator Whiteman said in the 116 years since the Registration of Titles Act was passed, there were still some 55 per cent of unregistered parcels of land in Jamaica. As such he said the Bill which was enabling legislation for the LAMP programme was aimed at modernising the process and helping to ensure proper documentation, registration and designation of land so there could be no doubt about ownership and boundaries.
Senator Whiteman pointed out that there were some 30,000 parcels of land in St. Catherine waiting on the passage of the legislation so the process could be finalised and persons put in possession of their titles. He said the intention was to proceed into priority parishes where there were individuals in possession of property that needed to be regularised.
He further clarified in response to concerns raised that the legislation was “not about squatters or informal settlers,” but was focused on ensuring that persons who “have right of possession” but were without their titles, would receive one. He further noted that the process involved surveys conducted by the public sector surveyors to the standards established by the Director of Surveys. “Nothing is done without the approval of the Director of Surveys,” he emphasised.
Senator Whiteman further stressed that the Bill was not to make provision for decisions about the fitness of the land for the purpose for which the individuals would use it, or the fitness of the land to be occupied, those decisions he said would have to be made at another level.
The Bill, allows the Minister to declare by order a project area enabling Cadastral Mapping Tenure Specification registration activities to be carried out and afterwards allowing the Ministry to implement projects throughout the parishes resulting in the production of a cadastral map of the entire island eventually. Where possible all unregistered parcels in the project area will be registered under the Registration of Titles Act.
Senator Whiteman noted that, “for the first time in the history of the country, landowners under the project will be able to benefit from significant reductions in the cost of legal and surveying services for land registration.” He further pointed out that the intention was “not to put lawyers and surveyors out of business, but to ensure that the services required could be provided expeditiously.” The Information Minister informed that there would also be reductions in the cost of the administration of estates.
Other benefits he said involved a reduction in the cost of administration of estates, the waiver of transfer tax, stamp duty and certain transactions including court documents and exemption and recording fees.
This is in addition to registered land titles for owners, accurate and larger evaluation roles, and an overall improved capability to properly manage the country’s land resources.
Cadastral land mapping is a system of mapping, which allows for an accurate register of land to be kept and helps to define property boundaries. It is supported by digitisation, the use of the Global Positioning System and Geographic Information Systems for reliable output.
The Bill, which was piloted in the House on Wednesday June 15, was passed with one amendment.