Accra, June 8, GNA - Ghana and the United Kingdom on Tuesday exchanged letters for a grant facility of 5.6 million pounds towards the Ghana Land Administration, Institutional Reform and Development Project.
The amount, which translates into 93 billion cedis, is to be used for a six-year period starting 2004.
Dr Nii Noi Ashong, Minister of State in charge of Planning at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, signed for Ghana while Mr Gordon Wetherell, the British High Commissioner to Ghana signed for the UK.
Dr Ashong noted that there were numerous problems relating to land tenure and administration in Ghana and attributed the situation to a high level of mutual suspicion and lack of trust between customary land authorities and the Government land sector agencies, especially concerning the collection and disbursement of revenues and royalties generated from land.
The purpose of the Project is to ensure the development of an effective and accountable Customary Land Secretariat, which recognises the diversity of different Customary Land Tenure Systems in Ghana. The key objectives include establishing or strengthening Customary Land Secretariat (CLS) in pilot areas in partnership with Government and land sector agencies and improving quality of records and accessibility of information of the CLS level on land use and holdings.
It is also to develop land policy to support publicly accountable and equitable land institutions.
Dr Ashong said many landowners have outstanding claims for land Government acquired compulsorily but had paid no compensation. "Consequently, owners of the land are requesting that the land should be returned to them or that compensation be determined and paid promptly," Dr Ashong said.
He, however, indicated that the large number of such claims had resulted in friction between the State and traditional rulers, which must be resolved amicably and quickly too.
Dr Ashong said the grant was coming at a good time, adding: "Those who are particularly vulnerable and would be covered under this arrangement, include stools that have customary freeholds, but no written agreement confirming their interest in land; women whose rights have been rendered secondary to those of husbands, fathers, brothers or sons..."
The Minister of State also mentioned the multiple record keeping practices in land transactions in the various offices of the land sector agencies.
Mr Wetherell said the overarching purpose of the UK Government was to support the Ghana Government in its efforts towards achieving the objective of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
"The Land Administration Project thus clearly finds a place within the overall structure," he said, stressing," the UK component of support for the wider Government of Ghana's Land Administration Project which, now comes on stream will thus address issues at the heart of our joint endeavours and we are glad to be involved."
He said the UK recognized Ghana's land problems, saying that the Project would be taken forward with careful, measured approach.