Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Use it or lose it - Government to restructure land divestment policy

Published:Friday | May 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter

"If you don't use it, you're going to lose it," was the warning from Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio with responsibility for land, to those who lease government lands. In his sectoral presentation in Parliament on Tuesday, Vaz announced that the Government was moving to overhaul its land divestment policy to promote utility and foster economic growth.

"Mr Speaker, the reason that we have so much idle land in Jamaica is because a vast amount of Government land has been either leased and is not being utilised or has been sold with no performance clauses for development in a timely manner," said Vaz.

He explained that steps were being taken to recover idle lands but cited court delays as a barrier. Vaz charged that "it is dragged out in the court system for years and years, while people who want to use land, can't get land to use. Mr Speaker, that must be the first thing that I've ever said that has full acceptance on both sides".

He noted that the prime minister had listed the matter as a top priority.

Vaz added: "We are going to retrieve what we can retrieve, and anything that is divested going forward by this Andrew Holness-led administration will have specific clauses that will allow the Government to take it back without having to go to court."

The minister disclosed that an audit of all lands under the purview of the National Land Agency had been commissioned.