Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 12, 2022 (SKNIS): Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Sherilita (Shez) Dore-Tyson said that the Ministry has resumed its normal duties effective Wednesday, September 07, 2022, and citizens can now be at ease as the ministry is moving to address several issues in a structured and people-focused manner.
Two main areas of focus relate to land and the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP).
Ms. Dore-Tyson said that all business relating to land including applications and administrative functions are now available. However, all lands allocated from January 01, 2022, are being reviewed and the entire process is being standardized. Speaking specifically to the issue of taking back lands, Permanent Secretary Dore said that the matter is being looked into to verify the merit of the decisions made.
“Another matter of concern is the high volume of people who are coming to the Ministry with lands that were revoked. In many cases, many of these persons paid off for the land. As to why the lands were revoked, we are not sure. Some would have paid regularly but may have faltered during COVID. And to me, that is not enough justification to revoke someone’s land. So, we are going to look at those matters and deal with them. We are going to investigate why these lands were revoked and as much as possible, we are going to rectify the situations.”
Additionally, Dore-Tyson said the Ministry of Sustainable Development is now assuming responsibility for Urban Development. She said the Ministry is facing a number of challenges, particularly in the land distribution function.
“We have had dozens of persons coming into the Ministry with letters that were issued over the past three to four months and they had errors. Mainly, no Lot number was assigned. There were cases with persons with the same Lot number for the same place. So, it means then, that we had duplications and so we have to now rectify this.”
Dore-Tyson said that a recommendation was made to the Honourable Dr. Joyelle Clarke, Minister of Sustainable Development, to give a cut-off point to allow the Ministry to review those lands that were allocated from January 01, 2022. She added that the Ministry is not accepting any payments on these lands until it has rectified the irregularities observed. Meanwhile, persons with lands before January 01 2022, can continue with their payments.
Pertaining to the PAP Programme, another operation of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, a plan to digitize applications is underway to allow better transparency and accountability of the process.
According to Permanent Secretary Dore-Tyson, “…that programme has increased foot traffic over the last three weeks since I’ve been here. We are now in the process of digitizing the almost 10 feet of applications that we met here. They were just packed in files and put on the side. And so, the Prime Minister has indicated that this new service (PAP) will be transferred to the Social Services Department. So, what we have decided to do is to digitize them. Put the information into a database, so that we can have a smooth transition between our Ministry and Ministry of Social Services,” she added.
Dore-Tyson expressed thanks to the public for its patience and understanding as her Ministry seeks to make some sense of the recent activities. She assured them that the Ministry of Sustainable Development is now fully open for business.