Georgetown, Guyana – (February 6, 2020) Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams, this afternoon, formally opened the newly launched Diploma in Land Valuation Programme at the University of Guyana (UG), which is being done through a collaboration between the institution and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC).

The Commission is the legally mandated national Mapping, Surveying and Land Administration Agency of Guyana and in keeping with this mandate, it is responsible for undertaking the valuation of public lands for the purposes of classifying, among other functions. However, the GLSC has been unable to execute its valuation mandate due to a lack of human capacity and requisite technical skills. Consequently, discussions were initiated between UG and the Commission to develop a sustainable solution to this matter.

In November 2019, representatives of the Commission met with representatives of the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences (FEES) to finalise arrangements for the Diploma in Valuation Programme, which will last for 18 months, with the first class being held just yesterday February 5, 2020.

Minister Hastings-Williams, in her remarks, said that considering the new possibilities for Guyana, especially with the emerging oil and gas economy, land interests have already been on the increase, primarily along the coast and waterfronts. She noted that it is therefore critical that steps be taken to improve land administration and management systems, techniques and technologies to address existing issues and alleviate their proliferation.

“Over the past two decades, forces such as globalization, securitization of real estate, growth in capital markets, climate change, changing demographics and enabling technology continue to drive the need for sophisticated national concepts in integrated land management. Valuation is a critical pillar in effective land administration. It is the basis of negotiation between buyers and sellers, for land rent, land taxation, compensation, mortgages, secured borrowing, future investment, land use planning, and identifying the value of an organization’s assets. The main aim of the valuation process and you the ‘upcoming valuer’, is to reach a point about which stakeholders feel sufficiently confident to take decisions in the face of uncertainty, hence the importance of this Professional Diploma in Land Valuation,” the Minister of State said.

Minister Hastings-Williams said Guyana is in the process of developing a National Land Policy under the Sustainable Land Development and Management Project executed by the GLSC. The land policy will be an arm of the national policy on promoting objectives such as economic development, sustainable management of natural resources, good governance, social justice, equity, and transparency, among others under the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), she said.

The Minister noted that professionals who are equipped with the requisite skills will play key roles in helping to build a functional and effective valuation system. This process, she informed, will help stakeholders to understand the basis for price setting, for buying or selling of property, for mortgages, taxation purposes, transfer of property and for Compulsory Acquisition.

She, therefore, told the students that through this process, they will be able to contribute to the development of a national policy regarding valuation; the creation of the legal and legislative framework to support early policy objectives such as property taxation and land use controls; the development of governance and institutional frameworks, and collaborative professional organizations to enable valuation functions, and sustain public confidence and the creation of valuation and technological innovations to meet local needs and adaptation of valuation standards and methodologies appropriate to country circumstances and culture.

“Understanding Guyana’s development needs, our potential and their role as the National Mapping, Surveying, Planning and Land Administration agency in Guyana, the Professional Diploma in Valuation is a commendable initiative and I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Commission and the University of Guyana, Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences for undertaking this venture. I also urge you the students to recognize this as a step in your personal growth, as well as the strengthening of your respective organisations. Take this opportunity and continue to build on it. In this case, your organisation has showed initiative to invest in you but you also have a responsibility to put in the necessary work to ensure that you are successful,” she said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of the GLSC, Mr. Trevor Benn, in his remarks, said the Commission believes that education is extremely important and therefore endeavours to ensure that all staff are properly trained and educated in their area of work.

“These programmes are very critical to the work this country is about to embark on especially in oil and gas. As we prepare for what is going to come and in order for us to fulfil the needs of everyone, this programme is essential. We have to get our act together because people are going to come and replace us if we don’t prepare ourselves. We have not been keeping up with international trends as it relates to property valuation. Our properties have not been re-valued since the 1990s and we have a big need for valuators in Guyana. So, this programme will help us to be able to fill that vacuum and to enable the country to earn its full and right share from properties in the country,” he said.

Mr. Benn said the programme is free for all 30 participants, who were drawn from the GLSC, the Deeds Registry, the Central Housing and Planning Authority, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission.

Chair of the Transitional Management Committee at the University, Professor Paloma Mohamed, in brief remarks, lauded the step that has been taken by the Commission to ensure that its staff are properly trained to carry out their functions.

“To actually have the Lands and Surveys push this project, endorse and fund so many of you here, it is something that is largely laudable and I would like to congratulate and thank the team for doing this,” she said.

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