NEW LAND and Marine Resources Minister, Jairam Seemungal yesterday accused ex-Caroni 1975 limited workers of negligence saying that they have contributed to a backlog in the distribution of leases.
As such the Minister, in the newly formed ministry, made an appeal to such ex-Caroni workers to visit the Caroni 1975 Ltd officer, or the office at El Socorro, to fill out their application.
Seemungal was speaking yesterday at the distribution ceremony of 150 leases to ex-Caroni workers held at the Naparima Bowl in San Fernando.
He recalled that during his term in the Agricultural Ministry they placed advertisements in newspapers asking ex-Caroni workers to fill out applications for agricultural and residential leases.
“Up to now we have not had all of these workers. There are quite a lot of them still outstanding, and we are trying to locate them. We are doing our best to make sure that we hold on to the lands for them. At the same time we are appealing to them to visit our offices to ensure that their names come up when we are processing leases,”said the minister.
Minister Seemungal noted that the Government was committed to providing 8,314 residential leases and 8,346 agricultural leases. It is projected that by the close of this year some 17,000 leases would have been distributed.
Speaking to reporters yesterday Seemungal said this new ministry was created by departments from the Housing and Agriculture Ministries.
He was confident that he would handle his new portfolio very well.
“I have started meeting with the various stakeholders already, looking at their procedures and practices, and ensuring that the law is followed with respect to how we are to operate,” he said.
When asked about funding allocated for the ministry, the Minister responded that it would come from monies allocated to the various agencies, which fall under his Ministry.
“It is just a matter of working it out, when we have a Permanent Secretary as the Ministry of Housing and the various ministers do, as to what monies are allocated and continuance of some of the programmes that were started under them.”
On the issue of settling outstanding debts to contractors, Minister Seemungal noted: “ I have not gotten time to go through every single part of the budget.
There were allocations within the budget to start settling some of these outstanding matters, bearing in mind that we have settled quite a lot already. It is just a matter of working out what is remaining, and working out the amount that is owed to contractors.”
The theme of yesterday’s distribution ceremony was “Fulfilling the Promise”. Many of the recipients received leases for plots in Reform Village, near Williamsville, Cedar Hill in Princes Town, and Petit Morne near Ste Madeleine.