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12.05.2008 General News

New Lands Act In The Offing

By Samuel Nuamah, Koforidua - newtimesonline.com

One hundred and sixty-six different pieces of legislation governing the land sector are to be reviewed and codified into a Lands Act, Kwame Gyan, Legal Specialist of the Land Administration Project (LAP), has said.

He said the review, which will introduce more coherence in the legal framework, has become necessary because some of the laws are outdated and this allows people to put different interpretations to them.

Speaking here at a training workshop for the Parliamentary Press Corps on the LAP, Mr Gyan said the various laws would be consolidated and developed progressively in a manner that is consistent with the country’s present economic and political aspirations.

The four-day workshop, which sought to equip the journalists with knowledge on the LAP with special emphasis on the Lands Commission Bill, was organised by the LAP Secretariat of the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines.

The LAP has been introduced to lay the foundation for a sustainable land administration system that is fair, efficient, decentralised, cost effective and capable of enhancing land tenure security in the country.

Mr. Gyan said there were so many uncertainties in the laws governing the lands sector which give the land sector agencies, little authority to enforce the laws, adding, 'the mandates and the lines of authority are unclear and these are some of the bottlenecks we are trying to identify and remove'.

The land administrative reforms, which would deal with issues of land administration and management as well as institutional restructuring of the land sector agencies, would also ensure that the agencies have the teeth to bite.

He said the country had many problems with regards to land compensation for compulsory acquisition and stated that the issue as to whether compensation should be lump sum or periodic would also be considered in the new legislation.

Mr Gyan said though the institutional reforms in the sector would result in some job losses, adequate compensatory measures had been put in place to cater for personnel who would be retrenched while those who would be re-engaged in the new Lands Commission to be established under the reforms would be well motivated to discharge their functions expeditiously.

He said the Lands Commission Bill, which would restructure the land sector agencies with the exception of the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands to become functional divisions of the new Lands Commission is expected to be approved by the cabinet on Thursday.

'Hopefully, by the end of the month, we would have concluded the process for it to be tabled in Parliament,' he said.

Dr Wordsworth Odame-Larbi, Project Director of the LAP, said one aspect of the institutional reforms in the sector would be the training of workers who would be retrenched so that they could find their way in to the private sector, 'all to ensure that the transitions are as less distraught as possible.'

'There is the need for the restructuring if we want our economy to grow,' he said and gave the assurance that nothing would be done to bring undue difficulties in the lands sector.

Giving the progress of work on the LAP since its inception in 2004, Issahaq Mohammed Jalaludeen, Planning Officer of the Project, said a drafting committee of the lands administrative reforms had been formed and 37 per cent of the backlog of land cases in the high and circuit courts had been dealt with and disposed of.

He said five new courts to deal solely with land cases had been constructed and were to start operation in October, adding that an inventory of state acquired lands had been completed in the Central Region while it is going on in 10 pilot districts by the private sector.

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