St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): St Kitts and Nevis on Tuesday (July 11) moved closer to having a proposed land registry, when the Land Registry Bill was given parliamentary approval.
The matter was debated in the House after Attorney General Vincent Byron introduced the second reading of the Bill.
Pointing out that the High Court Registry has many functions, the attorney general reiterated that there was need for a separate land registry to cover all legal aspects relating to the registering of land in the federation.
“The main import of this bill in its current form, the main import of why we are here today, is that there has been a difficulty going back many years in our country, in the way in which the way we register lands, it takes too much time. Some people will complain that they would have lodged a number of transfers, application certificates of titles with the registry more than twelve months ago, more than two years ago, it goes back a long time, this didn’t start yesterday.”
The land registry initiative was started under the former Denzil Douglas-led Labour Party administration, as was acknowledged by Attorney General Byron, Opposition Leader Denzil Douglas and other MPs.
Dr. Douglas told parliament that his administration had considered a separate land registry very important.
“I believe that it is really the intention of the administration to achieve what the former administration had perceived and pursued and we’ve had I think, support in the past from at two quarters, your right, when we closed the sugar industry, when one of the things we asked for was technical assistance and the financing to achieve that was to properly help us document the lands. Who owned lands and what were specifically were the demarcations of the various lands held by people.”
The process includes the eventual introduction of an electronic format to modernize land registration that is intended to protect records from destruction by fire.
Opposition MPs Marcella Liburd and Senator Nigel Carty in making their contributions to the debate said the government side was giving the impression that the electronic format would come almost immediately, when that was not the case.
“People will be mislead into believing that if you go to the registry the next month, next two months, next three months you will be able to do electronic searches and have direct access to the land registry and that is not the case Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. When you look at it, regulations have to be done” Liburd said.
“It’s gonna take a significant amount of time as of today, to get people in the country to be able to walk into the land registry and say ok, let me sit down here, or even at home, let me search the registry to see if these lands are there and who holds these titles. It would take a significant amount of time” Senator Carty added.
However in wrapping up debate on the bill, Attorney General Byron indicated that the government was moving to make that happen.
“Will this new dedicated registry be digitized, will it be able to do searches and so forth? I will accept that, it is the vision and we could have the same vision, but it’s critical to the efficiency of land registry, the importance of registration of documents. Over the next three years we will be doing a comprehensive electronic data based system that will be down by the Taiwanese on our behalf.”
Senator Wendy Phipps told the House that a functional land registry would boost the federation’s international rating in relation to the ease of doing business.
That position was also highlighted by other members of the House.