Wed | Jan 16, 2019

NLA selling lands to raise dough

Published:Sunday | September 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Avia Collinder, Business Writer

The Estate Management Division of the National Lands Agency (NLA) is now selling property for high density residential development in St Andrew, off which it is likely to make substantial profit.

The properties purchased in the 1960s and 1970s, for under J$90,000, are now listed for sale at more than J$120 million.

Thedivision whose responsibility includes the divestment of lands by way of lease or sale, says that property at 11 Jacks Hill Road, now on the market, was acquired by the Government from a Cyril Ernest Wedgewood in 1964 for J$10,000. It is now being offered for sale at J$58 million.

The property of 2,635.965 square metres accommodates a single-family residence.

Another property, at 3 Temple Mead, was purchased for J$77,000 in 1977 from P.W. Beckwith for use as a government residence.

Comprising 3,351.912 square metres and accommodating a single-family residence, it is now on the market at a sale price of J$70 million.

High returns

Peter Baker, manager of NLA's estate management division, says the lots are suitable for those interested in high returns on their investment dollar and who are targeting residential development.

NLA manages state property on behalf of the commissioner of lands.

Baker's unit does not generate income but serves as a collection entity for proceeds from the sale and lease of government properties, and payments from land-settlement allottees.

It pursues divestment by sale and direct acquisition of properties on the open market on behalf of government ministries and agencies, contributing to the management of the Government's real property portfolio.

The estate division also engages in compulsory acquisition, enabling the Government to acquire and take possession of lands "essential to the public purpose" under the terms and conditions of the Land Acquisition Act.

The department also acquires leasesonbehalfoftheGovernment's ministries and agencies in open-market transactions, if this proves to be more cost effective.

Baker says only five per cent of the proceeds from the completed sales or leases of government properties, such as those now being sold in St Andrew, are retained by the NLA.

The remaining 95 per cent is paid directly to the consolidated fund.

However, with respect to all other activity pursued by the NLA, it retains revenue earned from provision of land titles, surveys and mapping, and land valuation.

It also offers online services to local and international users, providing access to the NLA services for a fee, for example, enclosure plans, strata plans, deposited plans, property sales reports, title searches, searches for caveat cards, valuation reports, and searches for registered instruments.

Cost per service

The cost per service named ranges between J$300 and J$500.

The NLA is expected to earn J$705 million in this fiscal year, and the additional amount of $327 million, representing 32 per cent of the recurrent expenditure, which is largely funded by the Government of Jamaica.

The agency received approval for a recurrent budget of J$1.03 billion to carry out its operations for fiscal year 2010-11.

As outlined in its corporate plan for the period, one of the objectives is to increase revenue by charging for improved services and by developing new services.

Currently, the NLA also offers national spatial-information infrastructure, providing support to an information technology initiative being undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture to enable all government agencies, local government, and private-sector organisations to share land and marine-related data through an online network.