Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 24th 2014 Contents Given this country s limited land mass and the
ongoing contest for residential, commercial
and industrial real estate, a formal land admin-
istration policy will send the right signals to
international investors, local project developers
and other citizens on land tenure.
Land administration centres on the rules of land tenure (for
example, ownership and valuation). The transfer of land own-
ership by sale, lease, loan or inheritance, the valuation of land,
land dispute resolution and even land use and land conservation,
are all part of the land administration process.
The Energy Chamber believes land administration policy
coherence will not only simplify the fast tracking of business
investment opportunities, but also secure an individual s or
corporation s property rights. Conversely, unclear and patchwork
rules governing land administration can have the opposite
effect by stalling projects and miring landowners in a bureau-
cratic red tape and ambiguity.
For the local energy sector, the need for a coherent land
administration policy cannot be understated as the construction
of petrochemical plants, gas pipelines and identification of
onshore drilling sites are all dependent on policy clarity. From
a legal, economic and social perspective poor land administration
affects the private and public sectors as well as private landown-
ers.For the private sector, the lack of clear systems to identify
landowners leads to unwanted delays in projects. The country
can ill-afford this, especially at a time when we need to facilitate
greater investment, especially in the energy sector. Furthermore,
the legal ramifications of encroaching on private holdings and
possibly incurring liability for trespass add to the cost of doing
business. For Government, any lack of clarity with land admin-
istration can also be a deterrent to the development of the
State s industrial or even housing development plans.
Where do we stand globally?
In the recently-released 2013 International Property Rights
Index (IPRI), T&T ranks 52 out of 130 countries surveyed with
a score of 5.7 (10 being the highest ranking). We also rank 5th
out of 23 Latin American and Caribbean countries (see Table
1). Countries such as Finland, Sweden, New Zealand and
Norway lead the overall index while this country is bunched
between China, Ghana, Brazil, Costa Rica and Kuwait.
The IPRI is a comparative study that measures and gauges
the importance of legal, physical and intellectual property
rights in a country and the protection of these rights. The
Index focuses on three areas: legal and political environment,
physical property rights, and intellectual property rights.
This year s study analyses data for 130 countries around the
globe, representing 96 per cent of world GDP. According to
the index report, from 2009 to 2013, the overall IPRI score
of T&T increased by 0.4 per cent while the country s IPRI
gained 0.1 points from 2012 to 2013.
While T&T ranks highest in the judicial independence and
intellectual property categories, in other categories such as
physical property rights the country scores low. In fact when
it comes to registering property, the country ranks third to
last in the region and 116 out of the 130 countries surveyed.
Coincidentally, other countries in the region have already
revamped their land administration procedures and T&T can
look to our Caricom neighbours St Lucia, Guyana and more
recently Grenada to bolster its own land administration poli-
According to a 2005 report by a Cabinet-appointed steering
committee for Land Adjudication and Registration, the cost
to register a parcel of land in Guyana and St Lucia was US$107
and US$240, respectively.
In T&T, the cost was US $1,042. This example illuminates
the need for a serious rethink to our current legal and admin-
istrative frameworks for land administration.
Apart from the IPRI, the latest Ease of Doing Business Rank-
ings also ranks the country 178 out of 189 in the registering
property category and highlights the burden faced in transferring
property titles from buyer to seller as well as using property
as collateral for taking new loans.
While according to the World Bank, property transfers
became faster thanks to speedier issuance of clearance cer-
tificates by the Water and Sewerage Authority more needs to
be done. The country must therefore implement new systems
to change the perception about our land administration policy
among global investors and think-tanks.
Getting the legislative framework correct
Many of the problems T&T faces with land administration
can be attributed to an inadequate legal framework for dealing
with land claims, institutional weakness in some areas and a
lack of clarity on the relationships between several state insti-
tutions responsible for governing land administration.
The decisions of a number of agencies impact on land use
and land administration: from the Town and County Planning
Division, the Environmental Management Authority, the Com-
missioner of State Lands, the Land Settlement Agency, specialist
landlord agencies or even local government authorities.
These overlapping jurisdictions often lead to time wasting
and additional costs for projects. Apart from the need to clearly
demarcate the role and function of these agencies, a legislative
framework for land administration must be enforced as well.
Fourteen years ago, in 2000, the Registration of Titles to
Land Act, the Land Tribunal Act and the Land Adjudication
Act were all passed in Parliament. However, to date, the leg-
islation has not been implemented. This package of legislation
aimed to regularise and register all lands, create a system to
hear appeals from decisions by the Land Registrar and create
an updated computerised land registry. The legislation will
help simplify, modernise and streamline the current land
administration regime. Examples of benefits from the legislation
For private landowners, the land tribunal would take charge
of dispute resolution for competing claims where a will was
never probated in court. For government and the private sector,
the legislation will help in land use planning, environmental
management and protection and determining taxation pol-
icy.The Energy Chamber still looks forward to the full imple-
mentation of this legislative package as it would improve tenure
security, reduce land disputes plus enable major infrastructure
projects to proceed without stoppages thereby saving both
time and capital.
For more information on the article, contact Sherwin
Long at: email@example.com or visit www.energy.tt
BG18 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt APRIL 2014 • WEEK FOUR
Taking a fresh look at...
Land administration policy
Links Archive April 23rd 2014 April 25th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page