FOURTY-SIX families of Area Z, Non Pariel, East Coast Demerara, who were allotted lands from the Sugar Welfare Fund over 20 years ago, finally received their Certificate of Titles on Wednesday, solidifying their proprietary interest.
Speaking at a simple handing-over ceremony on Wednesday at Non Pariel, East Coast Demerara, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., pronounced on the importance of a Certificate of Title and highlighted the government’s commitment to ensuring each Guyanese is in possession of same.
The Attorney-General explained that a Certificate of Title is a document of great legal and commercial value as not only does it certifies in law the Title holder as the bona fide owner of the property, guaranteeing ownership, but it can also be pledged as collateral to secure loans which can be used for various purposes.
“Once the law is there, the Title is protected and it is that protection that you pass on to generations, and it is that Title that you can take to commercial banks and lodge it there as collateral and you can borrow money to build, or send your children to pursue an education,” he said.
Poorandatt Narine was the first recipient of a Certificate of Title during the distribution exercise; he has been waiting for almost seven years to receive the official document to be able to pledge it as collateral and acquire a loan to complete construction of his home and to move into same.
“This was one of the roadblocks because to be guaranteed funding everybody knows you need collateral, so once you have this in your hand, the AG said it – it has value that is incomparable in Guyana,” Narine told the Guyana Chronicle.
Nandlall explained that though the distribution of the Certificate of Titles may appear as a small gesture, it is a significant one which forms part of the government’s overarching housing policy.
He highlighted that persons may only be familiar with the allocation of house lots; however, there are other components such as allocating housing units, regularising squatter settlements, partnering with the private sector to develop housing schemes and rectifying issues which forms a hindrance to homeownership.
“The government saw a grouping of people occupying land and there was no title, and there was a process by which the Title can be accessed. What the government did in this case is to step in and got that machinery working, and that machinery delivered the Title,” Nandlall said.
An emotional Jaipersaud Ramlall, who, along with his wife, Doodmatie Persaud, finally received their Certificate of Title after almost 19 years of waiting, told the Guyana Chronicle that they are “very happy” to finally officially exercise ownership of their property.
Kwesi Glenn, and his wife Abiola Abrams, who has resided in the locality since 2010, and has been waiting since then for their Certificate of Title, were also among the beneficiaries and shared similar sentiments.
They told this publication that they were elated to have received their Land Title after so many years; they explained that their next move is to sit as a family and to plan their next steps as they now have the Title which can be used as collateral.
As for Seepersaud Sewchand, he has been patiently waiting for 18 years to be granted his Certificate of Title. On Wednesday he was “proud” to receive his Title document and expressed heartfelt appreciation to the Attorney-General for intervening and seeing the process through to the end.
Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, was also present at the simple handing-over ceremony; she told the gathering that home-ownership is a pillar of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government and they will facilitate the process to ensure persons achieve same.
“We’ve been heavily focused not just on the house lots allocations but on homeownership, getting people to homeownership, not just allocating them a plot of land and then say promised fulfilled, we met our target, and that’s it, but helping them through the process of acquiring their titles and then going beyond that,” she said.
The families were unable to receive their Titles because the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) could not source a Certificate of Compliance from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Enterprise, East Coast Demerara Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) due to owing the entities millions of dollars.
As a result, GuySuCo could not transfer the lands to the Sugar Welfare Fund and so, the families could not be granted a Certificate of Title.
The process of distributing the Land Titles commenced in 2014 while Nandlall was Attorney-General under the Ramotar administration; however, after the PPP/C demitted office in 2015, the process was halted.
The PPP/C, during their campaign leading up to the March, 2020 General and Regional Elections, promised to resume the process to see that the Certificate of Titles were awarded; that promise was renewed by President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Nandlall during an outreach to the East Coast of Demerara in February and materialised on Wednesday.
The Attorney-General advised the gathering to make as much photocopies as possible of their Certificate of Title, and to secure and protect the original copy as well as the photocopies in a bid to protect their property against fraud.