For some weeks now we have been hearing from several corners that the Lands Department has not been fully operational and that new applications were not being processed. It has been just over two months since the department changed hands with Minister Godwin Hulse now at the helm of natural resources. Love News met up with Hulse today and did an interview in which he denied the reports of the Lands Department not being fully functional.
“There’s this perception and sometimes it is said that perception is part of reality, it is not so though. What has happened is that prior to the general election a lot of the staff were engaged in training for the electoral process. Things were just literally stopped in the sense that they were not there. Post the election in a change over from government there was a shuffle around in the ministry because certain parts of the ministry moved to another building, we moved in, there was shuffling of files and it took like a week to get organized, in fact they’ve just about completed the wing where myself and the Minister Castillo and our CEOs will be seated and so that pulled out another week or two again and then it was coming to the Christmas and many people had not gone on leave and so the Lands Commissioner and deputies and so on went on that leave for that period of time so if you spread that you are looking at almost six to seven weeks. We’re back now and up and running but because of that backlog we’ve engaged the staff to try to do the inspections and various things that had to be done so we get that up and we can get on. And also we’ve been engaged in several meetings to look at different structures and how we can use this ministry and take it beyond than where it is to a very smooth operating functioning department especially Lands Department. As you know we have mining, hydrology, solid waste and lands. Lands is by far the biggest. It has several units. That is what gives the perception that not a lot of things has happened but yes we’ve been signing documents and going through procedures and structures.
According to the Minister, there are some improvements that they are seeking to put into place with the objective of having consumers not undergo the hassle of standing in line or waiting.
“We also had a strategic planning session where we’ve looked at how we are going to better serve the public because at the end of the day that is our mandate, how we better serve the public. We are looking at perhaps introducing kiosks where instead of waiting in lines to find out what the situation is with their application is they can go there and punch in their number and see the status of their application and where it is and that sort of thing; so, all of that we are trying to develop with a view to serve the public better. As we move forward we are looking at the inventory of lands in general, public lands, private lands. There’s been as you know certain areas of the country registered already but not all has been completed that needs to be completed, get a good inventory of national lands so that we don’t have those issues that are popping up of overlays of surveys or people having documents that other people should have had and that sort of thing.”
Though improvements will indicate changes in the systems or the way things currently are, Minister Hulse says rather than starting from scratch he will be building on what his predecessor, Gaspar Vega had in place.
“We’re trying to build on what is there. I don’t believe in starting over, reinventing the wheel at all. That’s not useful. Where the minister has left it we are now taking it to another level. Generally to bring efficiency to the system, of course to try to avoid any scams corruption and that kind of thing. Of course as you know, my own personal mandate is to try to root that out where it is at least in my department or to prevent it where it could possibly happen because one it is expensive, it’s disastrous and its offensive particularly to property. Property is such a sacred thing to a lot of people, you don’t want situation where people believe they have a portion of the jewel only to find out that somebody has it and that sort of thing.”
Minister Hulse was given the Ministry of Natural Resources as an addition to his Immigration portfolio while former Lands Minister, Gaspar Vega now heads the Ministry of Agriculture.