JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Bill was approved in the Senate on Friday, October 11, after being passed in the Lower House on Tuesday, September 24.
  • “The Government sees land ownership as an important tool for broadening the stakeholder base in the society by empowering people through land ownership.."
  • The amendments will also ensure that Government-owned lands are divested fairly and transparently and widen the base of land ownership in Jamaica.

The Land Divestment Advisory Committee has been given legal authority to provide advice in ensuring that Government-owned lands are disposed of fairly, transparently, and equitably.

Provisions have been made in the amendments to the Crown Property (Vesting) Act for the body to be incorporated into law. The Bill was approved in the Senate on Friday, October 11, after being passed in the Lower House on Tuesday, September 24.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, who piloted the Bill, explained that the Committee has been providing professional and technical advice to the Minister with responsibility for land, to guide him in making decisions relating to the divestment of government-owned lands and has brought improved transparency and efficiency to the process.

While the existing Act makes provision for the Commissioner of Lands to acquire, hold and dispose of land and other property of whatever kind, this power cannot be exercised without general special authority in writing from the Minister. The legislation, however, makes no provision for the Minister to be advised on technical issues to inform his decision-making.

Senator Golding said the amendments will also ensure that Government-owned lands are divested fairly and transparently and widen the base of land ownership in Jamaica.

“The Government sees land ownership as an important tool for broadening the stakeholder base in the society by empowering people through land ownership to lift themselves up and build a brighter future for themselves, their children and future generation,” he stated.

Supporting the Bill, Opposition Senator Christopher Tufton, said that as a small island state, with an expanding population, it must be ensured that, “there is a system in place to ensure the appropriate levels of transparency and accountability”.

For his part, Government Senator Wentworth Skeffery, said he is confident that the government is on the path to ensure that the issue of land distribution is done in the best way possible.

“I welcome the committee…and if this committee really has the cohesion and works well, then we all will seek to enhance that transparency and minimise or ultimately reduce whatever perception or reality of corruption that can take place in a system of distribution,” he said.