The funding is being made available under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was signed by Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill and Managing Director of the DBJ, Milverton Reynolds, at the Ministry’s head offices in New Kingston, on August 26.
The sum will provide assistance to beneficiaries of the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP), who have made partial payments on their applications for titles, but are having difficulties completing the payments.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Minister Pickersgill informed that the first tranche of $16 million will be disbursed by the end of September and is expected to facilitate the delivery of 650 titles between September and October, this year.
The second tranche of $37 million will be disbursed by the end of October, and will see the delivery of another 675 titles between January and February 2015. An additional $37 million will be distributed in February 2015, and will result in the delivery of 675 titles between June and July 2015.
Beneficiaries of the grant will be drawn from the parishes of St. Catherine, Manchester, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth. Pickersgill further informed that in addition to the grant from the DBJ, the Ministry will be providing counterpart funding of $20 million for the operations of the Adjudication Committees in various communities within the selected parishes.
The sum will go towards resolving ownership issues that will result in the issuance of titles to the applicants.
“There are a number of issues, which deprive persons from being able to use their assets to improve their lives and fight poverty,” he said. “Among them is the well known fact that many persons have lived on their land for years, yet their names are not on the property tax roll, so they cannot register their land,” he added.
The Minister said in an effort to simplify the process towards the titling of lands, he has issued instructions for persons claiming ownership of unregistered lands, through possession for a number of years, to be entered on the Valuation and Tax Rolls.
Pickersgill said applications to amend the roll will be published in one of the island’s daily newspapers, the Jamaica Gazette, and in the communities. “And, where there are objections to the proposed amendments to the roll, these can be submitted to the Commissioner of Land Valuations within a six-week period,” he informed.
“Let me make it clear that this administration is committed to resolving these issues, because security of tenure and property rights are fundamental, if we are to fight poverty and build our nation,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Reynolds noted that under the disbursement schedule for the grant, a number of milestones or conditions must be met before any funds are released to LAMP.
Also, under the agreement the DBJ will receive a copy of each registered title that is to be issued and a signed receipt from the land owner or their designated agents.
“We see this project as a vehicle through which the DBJ is effecting social inclusion by levelling the socio-economic playing field for all Jamaicans, including the small farmer, the shop owner and the retailer,” he said.
Reynolds noted that these persons will now be able to use their titles as collateral to raise funds to start businesses or to expand existing businesses, in order to take care of themselves and their families.
The LAMP, which was launched in 2000, is operated in 12 parishes across the island. It aims to reduce the number of unregistered parcels of land and regularise existing titles with current information.
Of the 800,000 land parcels in the island, it is estimated that approximately 45 per cent are yet to be registered.