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Phillips establishes National Land Ownership Commission

Phillips establishes National Land Ownership Commission

(Taken from the Jamaica Observer, April 6th, 2017)

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Newly installed Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Phillips, today established the National Land Ownership Commission, which will assist Jamaicans in obtaining registered titles for their properties.

According to a release from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, the objective of the commission is to undertake a full review of the existing land titling system and land occupancy mechanisms and to recommend strategies to give effect to a radical, cost effective and timely land ownership programme in Jamaica.

This would create an ownership society whereby all Jamaicans can obtain registered titles to their properties, the release said.

Meanwhile, Phillips noted that too many Jamaicans remain outside of land ownership through no direct fault of their own.

“When slavery ended, the farmers were compensated but the slaves were not and no framework was put in place to have them own the land on which they had worked. This is a blot on history and the commission will, through its mandate, seek to correct that blot,” said the Opposition leader.

The commission, which will be led by well-known attorney Norman Minott, is mandated to use the best methodology or systems to effect a broad scale review of the National Land Titling Programme; examine all existing legislation which impact directly and indirectly on land and to recommend a legislative framework which gives effect to certainty of ownership.

It is also to recommend strategies to reduce the period, enhance, expedite and simplify the process of land titling in Jamaica.

Phillips said the team will also review the issue of generational or family land and how to best resolve same within the national land titling programme; review agricultural and bauxite lands and recommend strategies for rapid land ownership.

All Government lands will be assessed in terms of their current and potential use, according to the release.

There will also be a review of existing Governmental and inter-Ministerial connectivity and overlaps to determine synergies and efficiencies with a view to recommend ways to optimise linkages.

The team is being asked to assess existing resources and their adequacy in creating an ownership society and examine the process by which people are placed on the tax roll.

This process will also suggest recommendations on how to resolve identified challenges and weaknesses.

Phillips also said the commission will develop a comprehensive document on the actions and steps to be undertaken to overhaul, support and enhance the existing national land registration programme.

“They will be tasked to examine and propose a mechanism to address the issues of generational land that are without titles, land settlements and unregistered land as well as government/crown land usage. There are over 100 pieces of legislation that deal with land on our books and the committee must examine and make recommendations in this regard,” Phillips added.

Other members of the Minott-led body are Senator Sophia Frazer Binns, Timothy Thwaites, Lisa Campbell, Stacey Knight, Michael Vascianna.