July 02, 2012 9:29 AM
PHILIPSBURG - An investigation carried out by Ombudsman has found that the Cadastre is not performing due diligence and not following legal stipulations for the registering of goods (the law). The Ombudsman has requested that the Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI follow a number of recommendations and seek clarification from the Cadastre.
The Ombudsman, Nilda Arduin, conducted an investigation into the structural functioning of the Cadastre and its registration system, and presented her report to Minister of VROMI William Marlin and Minister of Finance Roland Tuitt on Thursday. She launched her investigation in December 2010 after Cadastre Director Clemens Roos had said in the media that the Cadastre was an independent foundation with no connection to government.
Arduin had called for an independent investigation after several complaints from the public about the Cadastre, which were highlighted during the Claudius and ex-Minister Maria Buncamper long-lease land saga in 2010. The Cadastre came under the spotlight after two extracts from the public registers detailing the ownership of the land in question became public.
The existence of two excerpts for one deed, one of which was corrected by Roos when the discrepancies became clear, was a prime example of the need for the Ombudsman to look into the registration system. Roos had stated that these discrepancies were due to "conversion problems" from the old registration system to the new Kadsys system.
Arduin said the investigation had never been able to establish how the new Kadsys registration system related to the public registry. In other words, it is unclear if Kadsys is the public registry. If it is, she stressed, it must meet the requirements laid down by law.
Arduin said the Cadastre management and Supervisory Board had cooperated with the investigation poorly or not at all, questioning the authority of the Ombudsman to conduct such an investigation. She said that while Roos had said he reserved the right to make changes to extracts, "this could never be so," as the law stipulates how changes should be made.
For example, she explained, if information is missing from a deed extract, this can be attached to the registration based on a written statement from the person. It can never be, she continued, that the Director makes corrections based on what he thinks. If mistakes were made by previous registrars, the law also has provisions for that, she said.
Arduin said the public registry had to be accurate and accessible to everyone. On the latter point, Arduin said that if the Cadastre could find time to open on holidays for the media or well-connected people, then it also could do so for the regular citizen.
The Ombudsman has asked the Minister of VROMI to account for the shortcomings of the Cadastre highlighted in the report and to present documentation from the Cadastre that outlines its internal checks and balances and procedures. The Ombudsman is also seeking an explanation, through the Minister, of the relationship between Kadsys and the public registry and an account of factual execution of the Cadastre tasks.
In addition, the Ombudsman wants to know whether the application of the rules of corporate governance and the corporate governance code are being applied by the Supervisory Board and how that board handles management.
The Ombudsman also wants the Minister to investigate the Cadastre tariffs based on complaints from various notaries and to take appropriate steps to guarantee that the public is the beneficiary of properly-executed tasks by the Cadastre that were transferred from government.
Arduin said the investigation had been expanded to include complaints from the public that the Cadastre was refusing to provide extracts and/or copies of deeds.
Source: The Daily Herald