SEVEN hundred and eight former Caroni VSEP workers received their leases from the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday, but the process needs to speed up, says Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat.
Speaking during a Lease Distribution ceremony at the Couva Chamber of Commerce office, Rambharat said that the Ministry is making good on its word to distribute the leases of two acre parcels of land.
However, there has been delays since despite the Ministry's best attempts, it could not locate or solicit the response of close to 1,800 beneficiaries, despite repeated efforts to contact these individuals, through national newspaper advertisements.
Rambharat said that the effects as a result of such delays has been to those who would have received the leases, many have died and their families have had difficulties with obtaining the land.
There are 460 people who have been affected by the delays.
Rambharat said: “We need to move faster” and called on the executives of Caroni Limited and the Estate Management and Business Development Company Limited (EMBD) to set up a system or mechanism to have answer all the questions being asked by the beneficiaries and their families.
The Minister also called on all public officials to “do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay” in order to bring about change.
Rambharat said that the remaining residential leases for distribution will be conducted at different stages and will be under the purview of the EMBD. This distribution will be done by the end of the year.
Caroni Limited's Chairman, Jerry Hospedales in his opening address said that over 3000 leases have been distributed.
Among the attendees at the Ceremony were Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Avinash Singh, Chairman, Estate Management Business Development Company Limited and Caribbean Airlines Limited Ronnie Mohammed, Deputy Chairman, National Agricultural Marketing and Development Company Limited Wayne Inniss, Chief Executive Officer, Agricultural Development Bank Limited Shievan Ramnath, Chief Executive Officer (Ag.), Caroni Limited Kevin Singh and Corporate Business Development Manager, Agricultural Development Bank Limited Wendy Samsoondar-Beharry.