Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP is accusing the Government of once again trying to sneak in dangerous provisions into legislation.
Speaking during debate on the Registration of Titles to Land (Amendment)(No.2) Bill, 2017, in the House of Representatives on Friday 16th March, 2017, the Opposition Leader took issue Clause 20 of the Bill, which seeks to amend by
(i) “deleting the words “Any person” and substituting the words “An Attorney at-law who holds, or is deemed to hold, a valid practising certificate under section 23 or 26 of the Legal Profession Act or his clerk”
“What about poor people who would not be able to afford an attorney?” she asked. The Opposition Leader described the move as deceitful, and urged the Government to reconsider its position. “Every citizen should have access to the Land Registry,” she said.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said she received some concerns that the amendments to the Bill could lengthen and complicate the registration process at the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), which is already ill-equipped to handle the current volume of transactions. Another concern that was raised was that it could possibly open a flood of litigation to be determined by an already overburdened judicial system.
The Siparia MP also pointed out that the Government was tinkering with legislation originally brought by the UNC and People’s Partnership Governments. “You took two and a half years to tinker with legislation that we brought to give the appearance of having done something, and now we see this Bill is 99.9% a recycled UNC /PP Bill,” she charged. “In fact, this government has recycled about 13 UNC/PP Bills for their term in office, and some may say they are guilty of plagiarizing the work of the UNC/PP.”
In her presentation, the Opposition Leader also called on the Government to review certain projects which were started under the administration she led, including the upgrade to the Cadastral Management Information System (CMIS) and a project aimed at strengthening the RGD.
She noted the infrastructural upgrades would be critical to the successful implementation of such legislation.
“Honourable Attorney General, land is a vital commodity, the registration process is important, and as I mentioned the plight of the poor, I urge you to also look at the status of the Land for the Landless programme, and advise what the status is of the 400 persons who were granted land under that initiative.” Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said.
The Opposition Leader indicated that the Opposition was inclined to support the Bill, once the necessary changes to Clause 20 were made.