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13.05.2008 General News

The lands commission bill-a closer look

By Linda Akrasi Kotey - Ghanaian Chronicle

When parliament resumes sitting next Tuesday, they would be looking at the new Lands Commission Bill. The objective is to lay the foundation for the establishment of a self-sustaining land administration system that is fair, efficient, transparent, cost effective and which guarantees security of tenure.

In a memorandum to cabinet, the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Esther Obeng Dapaah, stated that the purpose of the Bill is to revise and consolidate into one piece of legislation, subject to the Constitution, the existing laws on the major public institutions which manage and administer land and have interest in land issues, in order to improve their services and also create a one-stop-shop for land management and land service delivery.

Currently, the legal responsibility for land administration and delivery of land services in the country is spread among seven public agencies. These are the Lands Commission, the Survey Department, the Land Title Registry, the Land Valuation Board, Town and Country Planning, the Planning Authority of each District Assembly over its area of jurisdiction and finally the Office of Administrator of Stool Lands.

Besides, the creation of multiple land administration agencies has left a legacy of unresolved problems such as scattered and restricted access to records, obsolete operating procedures as well as overlapping, conflicting and unclear mandates.

Furthermore, it has not been possible to have the agencies rely on a common depository of records and information on land, with their various offices not electronically networked resulting in poorly conducted land related transactions.

The perception of the general public is that land delivery and administration related services in this country are slow, disjointed, frustrating, breeds corruption and not investor-friendly.

Having regard to the fact that housing, agriculture, forestry, mining, tourism and physical infrastructure depend essentially on land availability, there is the need to revamp the whole land administration system of this country and the starting point has been identified to be the re-organisation of the lands delivery institutions themselves.

In pursuit of this, the Bill makes the new Lands Commission the focal agency since it is the constitutional body charged with the management of land. The most relevant land delivery agencies which at the moment operate either as departments in the Civil Service or as semi-autonomous agencies are; the Survey Department, Land Valuation Board, Lands Commission Secretariat and the Land Title Registry.

They are made Divisions of the new Lands Commission and power is given to the Commissioners to create more divisions as the Commissioners consider necessary. Each Division has as its head a director who answers to the Chief Administrator or Executive Secretary of the Commission.

The objectives
of the Commission

The objectives of the Commission are to promote the judicious use of land by the society, to protect people s rights and interests in land, ensure that land use is in accordance with sustainable management principles and the maintenance of a sound eco-system and to ensure that land development is effected in conformity with the nation s development goals.

Functions of
the Commission

For the purpose of achieving its objectives, the Commission shall

(i) On behalf of the Government, manage public lands and any other
lands vested in the President by the Constitution or by any other law and any lands vested in the Commission;

(ii) Advise the Government, local authorities and traditional authorities on the policy framework for the development of particular areas of the country to ensure that the development of individual pieces of land is coordinated with the relevant development plan for the area concerned;

(iii) Formulate and submit to Government recommendations on national policy with respect to land use suitability or capability;

(iv) advise on, and assist in the execution of a comprehensive programme for the registration of title to land as well as registration of deeds and instruments affecting land throughout the country;

(v) Undertake the acquisition of land on behalf of Government

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