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State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Victor Cummings, has said that new technology and legislation, which was incorporated in the operations of the National Land Agency (NLA), through the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) in the last fiscal year, has improved management of the Lands portfolio.
Making his contribution to the 2006/07 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives recently, Mr. Cummings said “the Land Titles Division of the NLA was fully computerized through the procurement of computers, scanners and a Document Imaging System.
Informing that significant gains have been made through the exercise, Mr. Cummings stated that, “the computerization of records has enabled the NLA to provide improved security and easier access to the records, thus significantly improving the efficiency of the checking of survey plans and the retrieval and accessing of records”.
Speaking of other technological developments in the Ministry’s administration of lands, Mr. Cummings told the House that the Project Management Unit and the NLA were jointly developing a National Geodetic Infrastructure.
This geodetic device will equip the Ministry to digitally ascertain the shape and dimensions of lands in the island.
According to Mr. Cummings, eight Global Positioning Systems (GPS) [with Continuous Operating Reference Stations] were procured and after analysis, had revealed that some 13 more would be required for full coverage of the island.
He said that the acquisition of this technology would be followed by the continued execution of a GPS implementation plan, which has been in place since last year.
On the matter of legislation, Mr. Cummings informed that the Special Provisions Act, which was signed into law last October, will assist the LAMP in the “creation of a dynamic land market across the island.”
He explained that among the benefits to be derived from the new Act were: speedy and cost effective land surveillance; redefinition of categories for land registration beneficiaries; adjudication of issues relating to land ownership; reduced cost for registering land and the waiving of stamp duties, updating existing titles; and transferal taxes.
Furthermore, the State Minister told the House that “waiving the requirement for transfer tax and stamp duty (except in instances where there is a transfer for consideration) has greatly reduced the cost associated with the processing of titles”.
He said that despite the waiver of such payments however, all documents must be certified by the Stamp Office to reflect this.
On the matter of the divestment of Government lands, Mr. Cummings informed that Cabinet had approved a draft of a Divestment Manual, which would soon be completed.
Continuing, he said that a public inventory of public lands and buildings in St. Catherine was being devised by the Estates Management Division of the NLA.
Mr. Cummings advised colleague members that some 6,113 parcels of land have already been entered into the system and that there were 3,205 parcels with buildings on them. He said the inventory would be completed by the end of this month and that inventories would also be done for the remaining parishes in the island.