Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Council Identifies Properties for Divestment but Bureaucracy Stifling Process

Published:Wednesday | February 8, 2017 | 2:00 AMTamara Bailey
Donovan Mitchell, mayor of Mandeville, catching up on the news just before the start of the forum last Tuesday.

While several investors have announced their interest in leasing or purchasing unused government lands in Manchester, Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell says the official process is so tedious that individuals soon lose interest and walk away.

"Land divestment is one of the most tedious procedures you have in this country. To rent a piece of the parish council's (municipal corporation's) property, persons will have to apply, the matter has to be sent to the Ministry of Local Government to a specific committee, then it goes to the Ministry of Finance, and depending on what happens, it has to go to Cabinet. Before you know it, the interested person is gone."

Mitchell, who was speaking to this issue at a recently held Gleaner Municipal Corporation Forum, posited that the growth ministry should devise a remedial plan.

"I think that the Ministry of Growth will have to sit and look at the assets of this country to see which ones we really need, which ones we don't need and do a policy that can help to fast-track the divestment of these lands ... ."

With more than 20 acres of land identified across the parish for divestment, Mitchell explained that the municipal corporation must be given leeway to expedite the processes required for sustainable growth.

"... Eleven acres in May Day was originally bought for a cemetery, but that idea was scrapped and we decided we want to develop it. But the ease of doing business with Government is too tedious, and there must be a way for the municipal corporation to be given some leeway with how we ask people to invest and be part of the whole growth agenda."

He also made mention of some 10 acres of lands at the infirmary, seen as a worthwhile investment, that could provide funds from its sale to be used to help the less fortunate.

Mitchell believes that a strategy and policy committee needs to be formed, with business consultants and other agencies from the parish, to conceptualise ideas for investment opportunities and proper use of these lands.