New land minister promises high level of service
HORACE Dalley, the new minister of land and environment has said service delivery and productivity will be the hallmarks of his tenure.
At a meeting with heads of departments under his portfolio last week at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston, Dalley said under his watch, the ministry would become known for results and for a high level of service to all its clients.
He said priority would be given to maintaining a balance between protecting the environment and preserving the country's natural resources on one hand, and facilitating and encouraging development on the other.
"We understand that there are persons who are more zealous for one side or the other, but as vital as our natural resources are, if we cannot facilitate sustainable and responsible development, then poverty will continue to increase, and our environment will continue to deteriorate," he said.
The minister also pledged to maintain openness and accountability in dealing with clients and the general public.
The meeting saw the heads of departments presenting reports on activities and challenges.
Elizabeth Stair, chief executive officer of the National Land Agency, cited staffing difficulties, particularly in the Survey Department, as one of the major challenges. She said the division was outsourcing work to independent contractors to tackle the problem in the short term.
Stair also saud the agency was conducting revaluations on the 650,000 parcels of land islandwide, with one-third of these completed to date. On completion of the revaluations, she added, property taxes would be reviewed.
Trevor Shaw, of the agency's survey division told the meeting that the department was reviewing its processes and systems with the aim of achieving increased efficiency.
In particular, he said the department is aiming to reduce the turnaround time for examining and verifying survey plans, from the present 20 weeks, to at least 10 weeks.