Aug 08, 2020 News Comments Off on President Ali strips Lands Chief of critical powers
– All contracts, leases since NCM will be reviewed – Attorney General, Anil Nandlall
President Dr. Irfaan Ali yesterday gazetted an order stripping the Commissioner of Lands and Survey of critical powers vested to the Commissioner, a move that Attorney General Anil Nandlall said is intended to prevent the Commission from further sanctioning the renting and granting of leases, licence and permission of occupancy of all government lands.
In the order issued yesterday, President Ali revoked the Delegations of Functions Order, 2016 vested to the Commissioner of the Lands and Survey under Order No.9 of 2016. That order states that “The Commissioner of Lands and Survey Commission is hereby deputed to exercise on behalf of the President, the functions relating to the sanctioning of renting and granting of leases, licence and permission of occupancy of all public lands…”
Following the release of the official gazetted revocation order yesterday, Attorney General Anil Nandlall in a statement announced that the government will be conducting a review of all the leases, licences and permissions to occupy Public Lands granted by the Commission following the December 2, 2018 No Confidence Vote. The Attorney General argued that the APNU+AFC Government was reduced to a caretaker status following vote and hence was not authorized to issue documents related to land distribution.
In an interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, Commissioner of Lands and Survey, Trevor Benn said he received no consultation regarding the order and the revocation of some of his key responsibilities, adding, however, that “It is the president’s prerogative to delegate or revoke the authority.”
Moreover, Commissioner Benn also pointed out that the initial order was issued by former president, Mr. David Granger. This, Benn added, was done with the intention of “speeding up” the lengthy application process attached to the renting/granting of leases and licences of government lands.
When asked whether he held any objections to the revocation of his authority as Commissioner, Benn reiterated that the grating and removal of such authority is solely dependent on the President’s prerogative. Benn further added that the authority was “granted to him by one president and can be taken away by another.”
Explaining further, Benn noted that such authority had never been granted to a Commissioner of Lands and Survey until his appointment in 2016 and is just one of 22 functions of the Lands and Surveys Commission.
Before his appointment as Commissioner of the Lands and Survey, Benn served as a Senior Land Developer with the commission. He later resigned from that post to serve as a Programme Analyst with the United Nations Development Programme Analyst Department for several years. Following the PPP/C’s removal from power in 2015, Benn later rejoined the Commission where he was appointed as Commissioner by former President David Granger in April 2016.
Following his appointment, former president Granger issued Order No.9 of 2016, granting Benn the authority to make sanctions on behalf of the president in the granting of leases, licence and permission for the occupancy of public lands.
While in power, the APNU+AFC coalition government had come under scrutiny by the PPP/C for facilitating numerous controversial land deals including the signing away of over 130 acres of prime lands to various entities along the East Coast Demerara.
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