Mon | Oct 15, 2018

PNP to create legal path for squatters to own land

Published:Monday | September 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Courtney Greaves (centre), a student of Jessie Ripoll Primary School, hugs Dr Peter Phillips, president of the People's National Party, and former party president Portia Simpson Miller, after delivering a message on crime.

The People's National Party (PNP) says if it forms the next administration, it will create a legal path for the nearly 700,000 squatters to become homeowners.

President of the PNP, Dr Peter Phillips, in his address to the party's 79th annual conference yesterday, said plans to end squatting can only be successfully implemented by using the resources of the National Housing Trust (NHT).

Phillips said a future PNP government would amend the NHT Act to give the trust powers similar to the minister of housing and the Urban Development Corporation to cut through the red tape and fast-track approvals for schemes.

He insisted that NHT contributors, especially those in the low-income category, must be entitled to a benefit from the Trust.

There are also plans to empower the NHT to finance accommodations specifically for public-sector workers such as police, teachers, nurses, and for the indigent who have contributed to the Trust.

Phillips is also suggesting the release of state-owned lands to the NHT for subdivision and sale at affordable prices.




He bemoaned conditions under which Jamaicans across the country have had to be living on gullysides, river banks and hillsides.

The PNP president said the reality for many Jamaicans is that they have to walk on the edge of a gully bank, rain or shine, to get home.

"It is a shame, a blot, a scar on the landscape of our country."

According to Phillips, many squatters have been living on the land for decades, raised families there and established businesses. He said others have come into possession of family and bauxite lands without formal titling.

Arguing that there was need for urgent action, Phillips said he has established the Land Ownership Commission to devise radical strategies and effective proposals to fix the problem.

The commission has made proposals for fast-tracking the land-titling process by crafting modern law to make it easier and less costly to get proprietary documentation. It also recommends an approach whereby GPS satellite-based technologies are used to reduce the time and cost of surveys, valuations and other activities involved in the titling process.