Bill to reduce AG's backlog for Senate today

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter

Friday, April 10, 2015

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THE Senate is scheduled to debate the Administrator General's (Amendment) Bill when it meets at Gordon House this morning.

According to the Bill's Memorandum of Objects and Reasons, it seeks to amend the Administrator General's Act to establish a framework for the AG to efficiently administer "multi-generational estates", which make up the majority of estates in the huge backlog at the AG's department.

This follows criticisms of the department's performance in administering the estates from Auditor-General Pamela Monroe Ellis in her annual reports.

In her 2012/13 report Monroe Ellis pointed to a backlog of 4,332 cases, which made up more than 50 per cent of the 8,000 estates being administered by the department.

However, Administrator General Lona Brown advised the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of the House of Representatives in January 2014, that the long awaited Bill would allow the department to make a significant dent in the backlog of cases. She said that the new provisions would assist in bringing closure to a large number of files with multi-generational issues.

Last October, in response to questions about the backlog from Opposition Senator Robert Montague, Justice Minister Mark Golding confirmed that the new provisions would allow the administrator general to administer the multi-generational estates more efficiently.

Multi-generational estates are those in which the parent estate has been in administration for more than 25 years and, in the interim, the beneficiaries have also died with no representation in the secondary estate and sometimes in a tertiary estate.

Golding said that the new Bill will empower the administrator general to administer the parent estate and the secondary and/or tertiary estates in a single, composite exercise applicable to the multi-generational estates.

He also explained that section 12 of the Administrator General Act will be amended, to remove the need for the AG to apply for a grant of administration from the court, in the case of intestate estates, where minor beneficiaries are involved, and in the case of testate estates, where there is no proving executor.

The Jamaica Observer understands that approximately $500 million worth of properties are tied up in the department, dating back as many as 70 years.

Brown has insisted that it has not been possible for case officers in her department to handle as many as 300 files, with very complex issues, as efficiently as is currently demanded.

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