Push broader reforms in land policy
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I read Ronald Thwaites' article 'Free up the land' (Gleaner, June 5, 2017) with dismay, as its prescriptions were a Band-Aid to a larger problem.
Assuming informal settlers are helped to acquire land titles, are recipients in a position to pay property tax and make their mortgage payments? Mr Thwaites mentioned the construction of roads. But who will maintain these roads? We are already unable to maintain existing roads and other infrastructure.
Should we ask, why are these informal settlements allowed to grow? In part, it is lazy politics.
I note Mr Thwaites' suggestion that we should move to tax properties on 'developed' land. I am sure Mr Thwaites is not 'bad-minding' persons able to build big houses. This suggestion will only discouraged development. A few centuries ago in England, a similar proposal was enacted. Property tax was on the number of windows in a house (larger houses had more windows). Many windows were soon blocked up.
Methinks we should not be looking at informal settlements in isolation. I say this with hesitation. We need to use politics to settle (no pun intended) informal settlements.