At the sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday, the Land Tax Amendment bill 2017 was presented for its second and third readings. The bill seeks to amend the Land Tax Act to allow for the employment of a Commissioner of Land Tax who will be charged with some responsibilities previously held by the Commissioner of Land and Surveys. The Opposition was in support of the bill. PUP Area representative for Freetown, Francis Fonseca expressed that the bills seem to be an effort by government to fix the “broken, corrupt system at the lands department” and had but a few concerns.
“I hope that when we are creating this office of commissioner land tax and were not creating another layer of bureaucracy for the Belizean people, the public. Because every single day I am sure everybody in this national assembly knows that every single day that the Belizean people have to go through a process that is frustrating, frustrating when dealing with the Ministry of the Natural Resources at all most every level and I certainly hope this is just not another layer of that bureaucracy which will lead to less availability of access for the Belizean people to land. And certainly it’s going to be very important who in fact takes up that job and we certainly hope it’s not going to be just another UDP crony that gets to fill a job, it’s a very important job as I understand it. It can be a very important job. So I thought I was important Madam Speaker to place that on the record we support the reforms, we support and agenda that is making land more available and accessible and a more efficient process for getting land to the Belizean people but we certainly hope that that will not become a part of this big nonfunctioning bureaucracy that we already have existing at the Ministry of Natural Resources.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow responded, assuring the opposition that the move is simply in the best interest of the department and to improve on administrative and operational matters.
Rt.Hon.Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
“The idea is to try to produce greater efficiency and the appointment now of this new officer is to relieve the bottleneck that occurs in consequence in the Commissioner of Lands being absolutely overburdened and having to in the past certainly discharge all of these functions. The notion is that you create this dedicated unit that ought to ease the flow of business and improve access and as to who will fill the post and it is the head of department post so the idea is to try to find somebody either in the lands department who is known to be Simon Pure or to if not to recruit somebody else from within the ranks from the public service , there is not thought of bringing any person on contract , there isn’t anything of the sort so I offer those assurances.”