Express Editorial : Daily

Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat has once again raised the national scandal of fraudulent land transactions which have been taking place all across the country.

He has called attention to the fact that such instances of illegal activity with the transfer of land, whether private or public appear unabated. This is in spite of similar warnings made over the years. This racket speaks fundamentally to the ease with which some citizens fall for the blandishments of others in what has been established as a flourishing trade. Over generations, hundreds, indeed perhaps thousands of persons, find themselves ensnared by others, duped out of their financial resources in hopes of landing the “security” of owning a piece of real estate.

As he continues with what has become as primary aspect of his official duties, the distribution of letters of lease to persons in different parts of the country seeking proper access to state lands, the minister has been discovering just how pervasive and entrenched this culture of fraud is. It is formidable and therefore, Minister Rambharat is advised to seek to involve all the relevant agencies of the State in his endeavour to break the neck of this deep-rooted phenomenon.

There would well be those instances, too many to be taken as random, however, in which some citizens presume they are getting a deal. The temptation to transact legitimate business “under the table” so to speak, runs deep among us.

But in too many cases, we hear stories of absolute rip-off, well-orchestrated methods by which the crafty and the crooked take advantage of the unsuspecting, and the naïve.

“Some people are gullible,” the minister told reporters as he spoke again on this issue last week. “They feel they get a deal and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars pass.”

People sell State land, often without so much as a question about the authenticity of the transaction, by the hapless, eager purchaser.

In other more diabolical cases, however, the minister has revealed instances in which the “seller” produces documents which appear to be official for transactions in the public, as well as in the private realm on this question. He has related cases coming to him, in which persons have been shown to produce “official” documents purporting to come from the now defunct State company Caroni, 1975 Limited, with job titles to support transactions which were fraudulent.

The minister says he has been receiving a stream of such phony dealings ever since he began bringing this matter to public attention. The question is, however, that such activity has been taking place over such a long period of time, it is shameful the extent to which it remains literally a going concern.

What has stood in the way of a comprehensive overhaul of the system of land transactions in the country must now become part of the search for answers in cleaning up this sordid mess.

This issue reveals only one aspect of the edifice of fraud and corruption which characterises our society. The government must move swiftly to bring together the proper mix of measures and manpower to dismantle it once and for all.

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