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18.04.2008 General News

Land Commission holds annual conference

By Accra Mail
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Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister has attributed the multiple sale and allocation of land by traditional land owners to the mistrust and lack of confidence of the public in the administration of the Land Commission.

"The land agencies are often accused of corruption, arrogance, inertia, red tapeism and un-professionalism", which he said had contributed to the introduction of land guards, litigation and sometimes loss of lives and properties.
Mr. Baffour-Awuah said this in a speech read for him at the opening of the 2008 annual conference of the Land Commission in Sunyani.

The four-day conference is on the theme: "Achieving the goals of the citizens' charter - A challenge for Lands Commission".

The Regional Minister explained that the unpleasant perception of the public about the Commission has been compounded by the activities of fraudsters, land contractors and estate agents of dubious character who had found their way into the land market and administration in the country.

The Land Commission is mandated to manage public lands, monitor developments to ensure conformity with approved planning schemes and the prevention of encroachments.

Mr. Baffour-Awuah said the government appreciated the problems and challenges in the land sector that was hampering the country's socio-economic development hence the launch of the citizens' charter for the Commission in October last year.

"The citizens' charter is a tool for facilitating the delivery of services to citizens with specified standards, quality and time frame with commitment from the organizations and their clients," the regional minister added.

Mr. Baffour-Awuah charged the citizens' charter to inspire the Commission and its workers to attain optimum efficiency and effectiveness in the management of public and other lands through a robust land service delivery.

He challenged the Commission to take steps to ensure sustainable management and development of land, accelerated service delivery to the public and to adopt market approach to land management and development.

Mr. Euslace Kumi-Bruce, Chairman of the National Lands Commission, noted that the unhealthy competition for land and the seemingly weak institutions involved in land administration had resulted in land problems confronting the country.

He mentioned the lack of planning schemes and development control, obsolete operating procedures, low level of adherence to planning and inadequate land records as some of the major problems facing the sector.

He said these problems posed a threat to rapid urbanization that also had serious implications for the management of cities and towns.

He called for closer collaboration and coordination of all land sector agencies as well as other stakeholders such as traditional leaders, district assemblies and the judiciary to deal with land administration problems in the country.

Alhaji Hamidu Ibrahim Baryeh, Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission said the Commission was focusing on staff attitudinal change, improvement in working conditions, effective monitoring mechanisms and computerization of land records to help improve service delivery in the Commission.

He said the Commission acknowledged that dependence on donor funding alone could not completely address the key issues and had initiated projects to revamp its operations.

These include funding from internally generated funds of the Commission towards the construction of deeds registries in Ho, Cape Coast, Tamale and Sunyani to help improve record management.

He said the Commission had developed a modern geo-information systems laboratory that is equipped to scan central records and convert manual registers into digital formats.

Alhaji Baryeh called for "a high dose of political support" for the Commission to enable it to confront issues like wanton encroachment on public lands, frivolous court suits and haphazard development in the country.

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