Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Opposition leader launches Land Ownership Commission

Published:Friday | April 7, 2017 | 4:00 AMPaul Clarke
Dr Peter Phillips

Dr Peter Philips, in one of his first acts as opposition leader, yesterday, launched the People's National Party's (PNP) National Land Ownership Commission, which will seek to garner recommendations to make it easier for Jamaicans to access land ownership.

The commission, which will be chaired by attorney-at-law Norman Minott, and which has five other members, is charged with "recommending radical and effective strategies, systems, and mechanisms to significantly improve and facilitate legal ownership of land by the majority of Jamaicans".

Under the terms of reference for the commission, a preliminary report is expected within six months and it will report to the Opposition. It will provide a comprehensive report on its findings, as well as actions and steps to be taken. This will include draft legislation to enable national land ownership (rationalising the more than 100 pieces of legislation that currently relate to land, among other things).

 

RADICALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH

 

Phillips said that the failure by The Land Administration and Management Programme to adequately address, in a timely manner, access to land ownership by Jamaicans made it necessary to put into function a commission to come up with new and radically different recommendations.

He said that Jamaicans must be given access to land ownership that will ultimately redound to unleashing the potential of the nation.

"Unlocking the mystery of natural and real financial capital is grounded in land ownership, and this is key to unleashing the potential of our people," Phillips said.

Phillips noted that the commission would provide practical recommendations to reduce the time frame for the registration of land, as well as address long-standing land-tenure issues and regularise informal occupiers (squatters) of land throughout Jamaica.

... 'Too many people called squatters'

"Land ownership is denied to too many Jamaicans, and we who are able must do something about it. Equally, too many of our people are termed as squatter," Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has said.

He says that "persistent land issues continue to keep Jamaica poor, and for years, the subject of land ownership and land use has remained a serious and deeply troubling concern for the majority of Jamaicans."

In the meantime, the commission chairman said that an enormous amount of work was to be undertaken but that he welcomed the challenge of helping to simplify the method of access to land ownership.

The commission is completed by attorneys-at law Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns, Michael Vascianna, Stacey Knight, Lisa Campbell, and commissioned land surveyor Timothy Thwaites.