Gov't funds LAMP land titling project through 2017/18

Gov't funds LAMP land titling project through 2017/18

Sunday, February 19, 2017

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Concerns raised by Opposition Senator Sophia Fraser Binns about the possible "disbanding" of the government's Land Administration and Management Programme(LAMP), have been dispelled in the 2017/18 Estimates of Expenditure.

According to the estimates, tabled in Parliament on February 9, the government has budgeted $216 million to meet the administrative expenses of LAMP in 2017/18.

LAMP is a government initiative, which assists landowners in obtaining certificates of title, by providing critical information to help the National Land Agency (NLA) in developing a cadastral map.

Senator Frazer Binns told the Senate during the State of the Nation debate in January that she was sad about certain developments at LAMP.

"It is my information that there are plans to disband LAMP. That is a mistake. Whereas LAMP may not have achieved all its objectives, it has over the years served to help the most needy Jamaicans obtain the title for their property," the Opposition Senator said then.

She also called for Parliament to appoint a joint select committee to review all the laws relating to land ownership in Jamaica, including titling, ownership, squatting and informal settlements.

"It is only then that we can show the Jamaican people that we are serious about their plight, that we are serious about creating an ownership society, that land is not just for the privileged but land is for every Jamaican who deserve to own a piece of the rock," she added.

However, she was reminded by Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Aubyn Hill, that LAMP was actually created by a previous Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration, to assist poor landowners in regularizing their ownership.

"When people get their property and they can use it to get loans, it adds up prosperity, and we are going to fix LAMP," Senator Hill said.

The $216.7 million allocated to LAMP this year is approximately $10.5 million over last year's allocation, which will protect it from inflation and cover its administrative bill. The funding also includes $55 million from the LAMP Land Tenure Fund, which was reflected in the estimates as Appropriations-in-Aid.

LAMP provides a central "one stop shop" in obtaining land titles at a fraction of the normal cost. All land surveys and legal matters are dealt with in one place. Certain government taxes and fees, such as Transfer Tax, Stamp Duty and Registration fees are waived to reduce the cost of the process.

In August last year, over 200 Jamaicans collected their titles, through LAMP, at a land titling ceremony at Jamaica House.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, keynote speaker at the event, described it as an important initiative, aimed at empowering Jamaicans with a renewed sense of ownership and pride in Jamaica.

"We want every Jamaican to have a vested interest in building Jamaica. In order to build a strong economy and improve quality of lives, we must give our citizens security of ownership wherever possible," the Prime Minister said.

LAMP is supported by grant funding from the Development Bank of Jamaica Limited (DBJ) and is aiming to deliver 1,200 titles for the 2016/2017 financial year.

- Balfotd Henry

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