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The Lands Department has been one that has faced the scrutiny of the public over many months and the stories of malpractice and corruption keep popping up across the country. The situation is such that even the Prime Minister Dean Barrow has gone on record to say that the department is also a “hot bed of corruption” and in yesterday’s press conference further added that the department is a “source of continued frustration”. Given the circumstances, efforts are being taken and cabinet has approved a proposal for a land administration system reform within the department. The reform will focus primarily on the Lands and Surveys Department which has the responsibility for all aspects of land tenure. In the press conference held yesterday, CEO in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Sharon Ramclam spoke on how they hope to streamline operations and improve management within the department.

Screen_Shot_2014-07-31_at_7.58.38_PMSharon Ramclam, C.E.O., Ministry of Natural Resources

"It is clear that the public has been consistent in expressing their frustrations in the level and quality of delivery of service offered at the lands department and this has now come to the fore where the department finds itself having to out many fires over the past weeks and in fact months. In our view the two critical areas at this point for us to tackle are the sections that deal with the national estate and the registry section. Those are the areas that offer day to day service to the public and ought to be offering day to day service to the public in a more efficient manner. At this point we need to address the critical areas of customer service the critical areas of public relations the security of files and land tenure and obviously the complaints of wrong doings and misconduct by the lands officers.”

While the ministry will be taking several immediate actions in the coming months Ramclam says they will also focus on policy and legislative changes necessary within the department. As mentioned, the aim is to improve accountability and transparency. Other objectives include strengthening personnel capacity for improved service delivery and public relations.

Sharon Ramclam, C.E.O., Ministry of Natural Resources

“We are looking at an automated numbering system where we can track each and every application that is filed with the department, whether it’s a new lease or a transfer or for a purchase, we’ll be able to track those where we will be able to assign a specific numbering system that will be able to help us track the moving system of that particular application through the system. We are also putting in place a proper tracking system in place for visitors. Everybody who visits any of the lands department throughout the country, will receive a specific receipt, it’s sort of like a ticket saying you visited, this was your complaint, your query, this is the officer who addressed or attended to you and this is what happened and so at the level of the supervisors for those districts and even in Belmopan at the headquarters the supervisors will be expected then to provide updates on a monthly basis on visitations at the various district offices.”

Within the reform is also the strengthening of management and supervision and the implementation of training programs at all levels in the department.

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