No Preferential Treatment at Lands for Cabinet Ministers

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Updated: May 29, 2017

Dr Carla Barnett has taken up the daily operations of the Lands Department since January 2017.  Since her taking over there has not been any update on how things are progressing with the unit when it comes to the application processes among others like transfers and inventory.  Dr Barnett took over the reins from Senator Godwin Hulse who had already begun reforming the system at the Lands Department.  Today, Dr Barnett appeared on The Morning Show with an update on the unit.  As it relates to political influence, Dr Barnett says while elected representatives try to push to have their voters’ document processed, there are no short cuts in the system.

DR CARLA BARNETT

“As in any other sector when things don’t work people go to their political representatives for help and a lot of what we call political interference is people wanting to help their constituents. We are trying to work that process away and we are trying to be as responsive as we can be to everybody. If you go into the lands department now you will not see a lot of  politicians or political agents, it just doesn’t happen the way it used to happen. People know that if you have a problem that you need to sort out you send in your information and we have a little process that we work through where we try and deal with everybody issues and sometimes that I think I’m running them ragged. There is a need for us to be responsive to everybody and to the extent that we can be responsive to everybody it means there is less need for that direct political presence in the Ministry the way other people have reported it in the past. So you’re not going to see that anymore, it’s not happening that way anymore. We are simply moving back to dealing with everybody.”

Dr Barnett concedes that the elected representatives do have direct access to her when it comes to pushing for applications but they system applies across the board.

DR CARLA BARNETT

“We sit around Cabinet table so clearly there is that easier access but irrespective of who it is, and if you ask my colleagues they will tell, irrespective of who it is there are processes that we need to go through.”

ERNESTO VASQUEZ

“Do they have to come up to the counter and start there or because if its an area rep he can walk into the boss’s office.”

DR CARLA BARNETT

“They can come to see me they are my colleagues they come to see me but even if they come to see me they still have to, whatever matters comes needs to go through the proper process. So let me explain an example. Let’s say you wanted to apply for a piece of land in village x. An area rep who is in that area comes to me and says ‘I represent Ernesto and he is applying for this piece of land.’ and we’ll say ‘oh yeah we’ll look after it.’ and we take it and we give it to the commissioner and he then takes it to the National Estate Office, they still have to put it through its proper processes and it will do all of the research necessary to confirm that that land is available, because we’ve had enough mistakes made the in the past by approving very quickly applications without proper research so we are not doing that.”

ERNESTO VASQUEZ

“You are making sure that that stopped?”

DR CARLA BARNETT

“Yes. So the research is done and we do the root of title, this is something that my predecessor had started to ensure that whenever a piece of land is going to be distributed to anybody that Government had the right to distribute that piece of land. So it has to be national and we have to confirm that it is national land before we can go through with the process of any application in that way.”

Dr Barnett was accompanied on The Morning Show this morning by the CEO, Sharon Young and the Lands Commissioner, Wilbert Vallejos.