Land Surveyors (Profession) Bill 2013 – Bill No. 16/20133576 16 Jan, 2014
Minster of Natural Resources and the Environment [Mr. R. Persaud]: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
In rising to move the Land Surveyors (Profession) Bill 2013 for its second reading, I wish to state that this profession has, for many years, from the time we had our first land surveyor, not been given, perhaps, the due recognition and its role in terms of promoting national development. This profession has not been given its due recognition – the professionals as well as its role in national development. There have been some outstanding sons and daughters who, in fact, started their career and contribution to national development as being land surveyors, and one of those individuals, whose painting is before us, is our first President. Mr. Arthur Chung was a land surveyor, and there are many other examples. [Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Harris] Yes, Mr. Wilson Harris also.
I say so because at a time when our country is experiencing economic growth, at a time at which there are increased activities in various aspects of natural resources and outside of natural resources in terms of industrial development and housing expansion and even the hospitality sector, the importance of land surveyors and land surveying as a whole cannot be underscored and understated. I say so too because we have a situation in our country today where we do not have sufficient land surveyors and if one talks to members of the private sector – and I can tell you coming from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission – we do not have the full complement of land surveyors being able to meet both developmental needs of the public sector, be it housing, the need for the Lands and Surveys Commission to carry out surveys for agricultural purposes, for residential purposes or for housing development. If we switch to the private sector too – whether it is mining, industrial development and a whole host of activities – you will find that there are a limited number of land surveyors.
Over the years, we have sought to increase training and training opportunities. Just at the end of last year we were able to double the complement of land surveyors being trained and certified both for the public and private sectors. But as we seek to do this, we are always in this mode of catching up so that we can be able to respond to the expansion and the developmental needs of our country. Because of this increased demand and activity, we found over time that there have been complaints about the quality of work. There have been complaints about ethics and there have also been complaints of persons professing and presenting themselves as land surveyors. In fact, they are not land surveyors and they have been, perhaps, misleading individuals. That itself has lead to a host of other problems.
We have recognised that the profession, as a whole, needs to ensure that the conduct and practice are in keeping not only with our laws, but also where we have gaps, where we do not have mechanisms, where we do not have institutions to manage the profession; we need to put those in place. That is why we have arrived here, Mr. Speaker, with the Land Surveyors (Profession) Bill 2013.
This Bill derived from extensive consultations with practitioners and with interaction with the private sector and other stakeholders who depend on this service. Looking at what exists in similar professions, how can we ensure that the conduct of our land surveyors are in keeping with our expectations but also that they contribute positively to national development and the profession as a whole given due respect and its role duly recognised?
As stated here in the Bill, we are seeking to establish a Board of Land Surveyors that would manage the profession where we would have a registrar and the Board, as stipulated. I would not, in the interest of time, regurgitate what is stated here. The Board would ensure that the necessary arrangements are put in place so that we can have land surveyors who are adequately and properly trained and certified. But, more so, after certification and training, other important aspects are the practice and conduct and the regulation of the practice: how we can ensure that these professionals know that they are under the law. There are lots of loopholes and, as we say in Guyanese parlance, “They are getting away with murder.” We want to stop that and we want to ensure that the practice is regulated and we have a code of conduct.
When there are breeches of these conduct and practices as stated, we want to ensure that there are associated penalties in accordance with the offences defined so that we ensure, as in keeping with any profession, be it the legal or medical profession, that when these offences are committed, the associated penalties, as stipulated in the Bill, are meted out in a way that would ensure that we have proper regulation and proper practice in this regard.
In going through the Bill, Members would recognise that we have attempted to bring the profession up to scratch. We have attempted here to ensure not only respect, but also to create an arrangement where we can perhaps train more young people and more young Guyanese can see land surveying as a profession to which they can aspire and for which there will be opportunities, as we see today in terms of what is taking place in the developmental outlook of our country.
To give you an example, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the demand, if we look at the activities alone from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission – and I am not even bringing in the statistics from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission in terms of surveying activities or what the private sector would require – in 2013, we have seen a dramatic increase whether it be in terms of application for monitoring inspections, schedule, approvals, lease preparation and so forth. You will see that there is an increase for the demand for these activities.
On a future occasion, we will be bringing to the National Assembly other aspects to complement this particular piece of legislation, and I speak to an amendment to the Land Surveyors Act as well as an amendment to the Land Surveyors regulations, because the last time the Land Surveyors Act was amended was sometime in 1973.
We all would be disappointed to know that even in our existing legislation and regulations, there is no provision for the recognition of Global Positioning System (GPS) in terms of demarcation and aiding in this regard. We need to modernise and recognise the technology.
We have decided that we needed to ensure that we address the conduct and the shortcomings of the profession and, at the end of the day, be able to satisfy the demand both in the public and private sectors.
With those remarks, I seek the House’s approval for the Land Surveyor’s (Profession) Bill 2013. Thank you. [Applause]
Mr. R. Persaud (replying): Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I wish to thank the APNU as well as the AFC Colleagues of the Opposition for their support. I wish to commend the presentation by Dr. Roopnarine. I am quite sure that members of the profession and those who follow the profession very closely will certainly be heartened and would certainly be given cause to engage in some more research and see how far we have come.
I want to encourage other Members of the Assembly, but certainly of the wider public, that what we are seeking to do here is to recognise a body of skilled professionals who have and who are making contribution to the development of our country. I think we will be doing justice to our constituents here in advocating and promulgating relevant legislation that will better their welfare. With those few remarks and the support by Mr. Ramjattan, I wish to propose that the Bill be read a second time.
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