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Nov 21, 2019

Is Lands Department Still a Hotbed of Corruption?

Hugo Patt

In October 2013, Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the diaspora in Los Angeles that the Lands Department is another hotbed of corruption and that the administration tried to do something about the rot.  The Ministry of Natural Resources has since been changed hands on four occasions: Gaspar Vega who resigned after a scandal emerged involving his son Andre emerged, former Attorney General and Senator Vanessa Retreage who resigned in 2016, Dr. Carla Barnet and now Corozal North Area Representative Hugo Patt. So what has been done to curb those corrupt deeds? Well there are now persistent reports that money has to pass hands to get anything transaction moving. Minister Patt says he does not believe that any government will reduce the level of corruption. 

 

Hugo Patt, Minister of Natural Resources

“Well if those things are happening I would more than welcome anyone who has proof of those eventualities. Certainly, I have had instances particularly in my district where people have actually come n and tell us ‘look I had paid x person to transact this land for me and I haven’t seen any title’. I could recall of one very case where I actually told the person ‘look I don’t think there is any way you are going to get this piece of land in question, it is private land so consider your money loss. If there is anything that we can do to help is come up with evidence. Coming up with that evidence is something that really the public and those involved hardly want to do. So my advice to anybody whenever you are transacting anything within the Lands Department there is no need to pay. If there are any fees that are payable those would have to be collected by cashiers within the Ministry and a valid government receipt will have to be provided for that payment.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Sir the Prime Minister had described the department as a hot bed of corruption. Do you believe that level of corruption has reduced or still exist?”

 

Hugo Patt

“Look I don’t think that any government will reduce the level of corruption. I think that once we are able to get the department to produce documents in a timely manner, I think that level of corruption should go down. I get the sense that people use the issue of our lengthy processing to actually make benefit out of it. So we are trying to expedite e the process to the best actually way so that we give people that timeline to produce the documents.”


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