The Government of the day has constantly been chastised for the land corruption at the lands department. The situation has gotten is so bad that even the Prime Minister of Belize has openly stated that the Ministry of Lands is quote a “hot bed of corruption”. And tonight it’s no different only that this time the Minister of Natural Resources himself is admitting that his department messed up one more time. The most recent case is surrounding a parcel of land adjacent the Tropic Air airstrip in San Pedro. It appears that two leases and one title were issued for the same parcel of land. One of the leases was given to Tropic Air after the company submitted a proposal for the expansion of the airline, a project that would see the investment of millions worth of dollars. There was one problem though. The land they had leased was also being claimed by two other individuals. Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia, says he had stepped in to help sort out the mess made by the lands department and he explains how the dispute surfaced.
Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism
“After they were about to start their project, it was found out that there was not one but two persons that owned land inside of what was supposedly what should have been leased to Tropic Air; one is Bret Finesteins and the other is Marylin Pau. When I learnt about Bret owning over there is because Mrs. Marylie Pau who might know very well and from my constituency and asked me if I can help her to get her title, she has all the receipt where she has paid under the previous administration but didn’t manage to get her title and she said fine I know you well and that is when I found out that Bret owns a particular parcel of land also over there and that by mistake he was given the parcel number that belongs to Mrs. Marylie Pau so I said that she cannot get her title until this is resolve so that was ongoing until around January I understand that Mr. Finestein was given proper title to the proper parcel number that he paid for. An injunction has been put over there which to me injunctions can last up to three years over there in the meantime there will be an eye swore in the airstrip which was what I was trying to avoid and that is the only reason I got involved.”
Minister of Natural Resources Gaspar Vega says that the department has begun sorting the mess out and already the lease issued to Tropic Air has been cancelled.
Gaspar Vega – Minister of Natural Resources
“The lease has been cancelled and it is an error that the ministry made , it an error that came in long before 2008 and instead of rectifying but I am going to be honest it is a problem created by the ministry, it was just a human error and it had compounded problems and we have been able to mediate it to solve the situation and it has gotten a little out of control and we are hoping that it will settle quickly but like I said it is an error that the ministry made.”
Minister Vega is not the first official in the department to admit that there are many inconsistencies committed or even shady work being done within the lands department.
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