Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PM Kamla fulfills promise to Tobago, delivers Land Titles

John Parks, 94, receives his land title from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar during Monday's presentation ceremony at the MIC building, Milford Road, Tobago. At right is Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar. — Express Photo by ELIZABETH WILLIAMS
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Monday handed out land titles to nine people in Tobago as part of a promise made during the 2010 election campaign to regularise Land Titles in the island.

Among those getting formal legal documents was 94-year-old John Parks, who applied for the title in 1984. "Blessed is that recipient to be able to be here today," she said.

She expressed her satisfaction with the fact that her government has been able to deliver on a pledge made to the people of Tobago who had had to endure "an interminable and unconscionable wait for this day".

She said, "There is a long list of reasons why what we are doing here today could not have been done before. The laid back custom and culture of the times gone by, staffing inadequacies, equipment inefficiencies, travel and logistics, have all been put forward as reasons. 

"Let me tell you what I think was the real problem…a lack of will to get the job done. Those previously in charge simply did not care! How else does one explain a problem of decades being resolved in only two years?"

She said it was her administration's determination to correct a long standing problem that caused the positive change. And she commended the staff of the Registrar General’s Department, who were able to put the necessary systems and infrastructure in place to resolve an issue that she said has brought decades of hardship and deprivation to so many in Tobago. 

"Without proper titles and deeds to their lands, these people were deprived of the ability to transact any business involving their properties. Without proper title to your land, you cannot use it as collateral on a loan. 

"Without proper title to your land you cannot get permission from Town & Country Planning to erect any buildings. Without proper title to your land you cannot will it to your children, transfer ownership to your next of kin or sell it. In fact, you cannot properly purchase land without the owner having legal title to said property.

"That is how important, how crucial, these pieces of paper are to the people of Tobago. Having proper title to their lands enables them to access the true value of ownership. Affords them the opportunity to negotiate transfers, sales, mortgages. Allows them, should they so desire, to monetise this formerly non-negotiable asset." 

Persad-Bissessar noted that other administrations also promised to deliver but failed to remedy the situation.

"Look at what happened to the McKenzie Report. Remember the McKenzie Report? The McKenzie Committee was charged with investigating and making recommendations for amendments to the Real Property Ordinance as regards Land Titles in Tobago.

"The THA received the McKenzie Report on August 30th, 2006.
2006 ladies and gentlemen and what did they do with it? Left it on a shelf to gather dust," she said. 

"We keep our promises brothers and sisters. We keep our promises.
Despite utterances to the contrary, we take our duty to you, the people of Tobago indeed to all of the people of Tobago and Trinidad seriously. Today’s handover of Land Titles here in Tobago is evidence of that fact." 

And she said her administration is doing much more for Tobago, including piloting a Bill for Internal self Government in Tobago.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai