OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is questioning why Government has introduced a clause in the Registration of Titles to Land (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, which takes away the right of citizens to do searches at the land registry.
Speaking during the debate of the bill in Parliament on Friday, Persad-Bissessar said the Government had deceptively included the clause which takes away the rights of citizens.
Clause 20 of the bill limits the application to only attorneys-at-law or their clerks and “removes the entitlement of a certified copy of any folio or part of the parcel index map or any plan or instrument filed in the registry on the payment of prescribed fees with the requisite form.”
She said where before any person could go into the land registry and have sight of documents and make searches, this was changed to delete “any person” and replace it with “an attorney or clerk.”
“What about the poor person who can’t pay a lawyer to run search for them?” Persad-Bissessar said. While adding that their was a clause that gave citizens access to the land registry via an electronic search, she said the facility for electronic searches was inconsistent. She said up until Friday she had tried a search and because of problems with the website, was unable to do so.
“Which poor person have this set of computer and thing to do a search,” she asked. “Why are you removing that right? Why are we propping up the lawyers to make money off of poor people to do a search?”
The Siparia MP also raised concerns about amendments that could lengthen and complicate the registration process at the Registrar General’s Department, which, she said, is ill-equipped to handle the volume of transactions.
Persad-Bissessar wanted to know what would happen to 400 people who were granted state land under the Land for the Landless programme, an initiative of her former government.
“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,” she said.
The Lower House went on to pass the bill unanimously with no amendments.