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13.08.2004 Regional News

Forum on land management held in Sekondi

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Sekondi, Aug. 13, GNA - Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands and Forestry, on Friday called on traditional rulers to avoid chieftaincy disputes to enable them assess their royalties for the development of their areas.

He made the call at a workshop on "Improving Land Administration for Poverty Reduction" organised as part of the activities of the first Western Region Homecoming Summit, in Sekondi.

Prof Fobih said litigation and chieftaincy disputes often made it difficult to disburse royalties because it was impossible to know who to give the fund to.

He advised areas engulfed in chieftaincy disputes to endeavour to resolve them to enable them have access to royalties on their land. Professor Fobih urged Chiefs to assist investors to obtain land in their areas.

He admitted that government had acquired lands it was yet to pay compensation while some lands granted by stools for national development projects were being divested to private companies sometimes without the knowledge of the communities affected.

Professor Fobih said, there were no sound formal structures for accountability for stool land revenue at the stool and the district assembly levels.

He said traditional rulers had raised strong objections to the stool land revenue sharing mechanism as stipulated in the 1992 Constitution and the Forestry Commission's administrative deductions for management of forests.

Prof Fobih said the Ghana Land Administration project had been initiated by the government to find long-term solutions to key land issues and to ensure the development of a sustainable and well functioning land administration system that was fair, efficient, cost effective, decentralised and which enhances tenure security.

He said key actions that would be taken under the project included a review of land legislations and harmonising them with customary law, conduct an inventory of all state lands in the country with the view of developing a comprehensive policy on compensation and implementation of practical measures in stool land boundary demarcation, establishment of deeds registries, valuation of properties for rating, land use planning and development of land information systems.

Prof Fobih said in pursuit of these activities, his Ministry had recently hired consultants to undertake the legislative review and harmonisation of statute laws with customary laws.

He said the first phase of an institutional reform study of all public land agencies had been completed.

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, asked district assemblies to create banks to assist investors to obtain land to set up businesses.

He said problems associated with land acquisition and land guards were some of the factors that drove away investors.

Mr Aidoo said the public must ensure that chiefs gave out lands they acquire since they were the custodians of most lands in the country. Kasapreko Kwame Bassanyin III, President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs and Omanhene of Wassa Amenfi Traditional Area, said land issues affected the fabric and stability of the nation.

Odeneho Gyapong Ababio II, President of the National House of Chiefs and Omanhene of Sefwi Bekwai Traditional Area, pointed out that the Forestry Commission alone took as much as 60 per cent of the revenue from stool lands.

He said it was difficult to understand why most stool land revenue were allocated to the Commission that was not accountable to traditional rulers and expressed the hope that the anomaly would be addressed soon. Odeneho Ababio pointed out that chiefs were not involved in the management of stool lands and are concerned about the haphazard development of communities and the rapid rate of environmental degradation.