Another 101 Jamaicans are now proud owners of land in Bog Walk, St. Catherine, after being presented with registered titles on May 1.

The certificates of title were issued through the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP), during a ceremony at the Bethel Baptist Church, in Bog Walk.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who handed out several of the titles, said this activity is part of the Government’s mission to continue the process of expanding land ownership to the people of St. Catherine and across Jamaica.

“We will continue to work to deliver security of tenure to individuals and families across this country, because it is critical to improving the quality of life of our people and building strong communities,” she said.

The Prime Minister noted that recipients are now part of the ownership society and through their land titles they have the power to significantly improve their lives.

“With your titles, you can get loans to build or improve your homes; you can get credit to start a business, or to expand an existing one,” she added.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said that the Government, through this titling ceremony, is enabling more Jamaicans to be able to own “a little piece of the rock.”

“I believe that if we make more people registered land owners in Jamaica, we will reduce poverty, build the economic base of families and create a more responsible society. This is what this Government intends to achieve through our various land titling programmes being implemented by LAMP,” she said.

The LAMP initiative has been in St. Catherine for the past 14 years, which the Prime Minister noted has obtained over 2,761 titles for parcels of land in that parish.

Mrs. Simpson Miller further pointed out that the existing titles for a further 1,840 parcels of land have been updated under the programme, and that LAMP has also assisted beneficiaries with the administration of estates.

“This is a programme which was created to address the many constraints which result in many parcels of land not being titled. Some challenges include the informal subdivision of land, the high costs associated with registering land and the fact that many persons in possession of land, die without making a will, and where wills are made, the descendants often take a long time to apply to the courts to probate the will,” she said.

The Prime Minister said the Government has been working to improve the land ownership process, noting that under the relevant legislation since 2005, the cost associated with land titling has been significantly reduced.

“We have also established committees at the community level, to help to clarify rights and interests in land. Where there is no documentary proof of ownership, persons can now get documentation to have their land registered,” she added.

The Prime Minister further noted that having recognised that small land owners still found it difficult to afford titling services through LAMP, despite the significantly reduced cost, last year the Government secured grant funding amounting to $90 million through the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) to assist some persons in some parishes to pay land titling costs.

Mrs. Simpson Miller reminded the recipients that it is their civic duty to pay their land tax. “Now that you are officially titled land owners, the continued payment of your property taxes is part of your responsibility to yourself, your families and to your society,” she said.

Congratulating the recipients, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, encouraged them to engage in environmentally friendly agricultural practices, should they use the land for that purpose.

“Bog Walk and surrounding areas are agricultural communities, which mean that some of you will be utilising your land to grow your crops or raise animals. Preserving the environment, through improved farming techniques and environmentally friendly practices, is therefore critical,” he said.

For her part, Minister with responsibility for Sport and Member of Parliament for North Central St. Catherine, Natalie Neita Headley, told the new land owners that they now possess a very powerful asset, which they should use to create strong, united and organised communities.

“The power you have in your hands today, should allow you to understand that in creating powerful communities, you’re not only increasing the value and protecting and preserving the value and appreciation of your land, but you’re also creating a clean and safe environment for yourselves and families,” she said.

Land title recipient, Carol Steele, said he was elated to be given his title. He said he was feeling “very good to be holding this instrument of authority in my hands.”

“Plenty times we spew out venom on politicians and the Government when they don’t get it right…but at a time like now, when they do get it right, we should give them an ovation,” he said.

Another recipient, Tarshea Williams, also said she was overjoyed to have received her title. “This is a grand opportunity that I must thank the heads that made it possible for us – Minister (Pickersgill), the Prime Minister, and especially the staff at LAMP.”

LAMP is a Government initiative to help all owners of land in Jamaica obtain certificates of title and to update the information on existing land titles.

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