AGRICULTURE, Land and Fisheries Minister Clarence Rambharat is hoping that by September 2020, 5,000 leases to squatters on state lands would have been distributed by government.
Rambharat made the statement on Friday while distributing leases to former Caroni (1975) Ltd workers at his ministry on Narsaloo Ramaya Marg Road, Endeavour. Leases for over 4,000 acres of residential and agricultural land were presented to 450 former workers.
Rambharat said when he was appointed in September 2015, he gave priority to clearing the backlog of leases promised to the workers as part of their Voluntary Separation of Employment Packages when Caroni was shut down by government in 2003.
“When I came in we had Caroni two-acre agricultural lots of land and the residential leases. I’ve given priority to the agricultural two-acre parcels and at the end of today’s distribution, we would have distributed just over 7,000 leases, both agricultural and residential. I think we have made a significant impact in terms of the backlog,” he said.
But the number of leases for squatters pales in comparison, working out to less than five per cent of the Caroni leases. “As minister, I have only processed about 300 state land leases. These are not Caroni leases, they are people who are tenants of state lands, either residential or agricultural. The backlog for agriculture has to be far more significant than that.”
As for his efforts so far, Rambharat said, “I think that if the land management were to send to Cabinet what I have worked on from July to now, it would be about 1,500. I want to convert all of those to leases at a rate of 250 per month and I want to go just about 5,000 by the time we get September 2020.”