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24.08.2004 Regional News

Stool Lands attract 158 billion cedis

By GNA

Kumasi, Aug. 24, GNA - The Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands has so far mobilised and disbursed more than 158 billion cedis to occupants of Stool Lands and Traditional Institutions, since it was created in 1996.

Dr Mrs Matilda Fiadzigbey, Administrator of Stool Lands, said this at the opening of a three-day national stakeholders workshop on the utilisation of customary land revenue, in Kumasi on Tuesday.

It was organised by the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands against the background that there is the lack of transparency and accountability in the utilisation of stool lands revenue by recipients. The workshop is under the theme "Customary Lands Revenue-a Key Developmental Tool", and is being attended by traditional rulers, members of the academia, revenue and land sector agencies, Ministries of Land and Forestry, Justice, Finance and Mines, district assemblies, MPs and non governmental organisations.

It is aimed at identifying measures to ensure that benefits accruing from stool land were properly used and accounted for. Topics to be discussed include legal basis for the management of customary revenue, accessing customary revenue for development, procedures for apportionment of timber royalties and utilisation of customary land revenue for community development.

Dr Mrs Fiadzigbey said noted that the lack of transparency and accountability by the recipients had often resulted in agitations and violent confrontations by the youth, especially those in the mining communities.

She said her office had also received complaints that some district assemblies used stool lands revenue for projects that do not directly benefit the communities.

Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands and Forestry in an address read for him, expressed concern about the inappropriate use of stool lands revenue by the district assemblies and other beneficiaries. He said the assemblies instead of channelling the revenue into development projects were rather, using them for recurrent expenditures.

Professor Fobih called on recipients of stool lands revenue to be transparent and accountable in the utilisation of the funds to the benefit of their people.

He said the Government was currently embarking on a new Land Administration project to strengthen, support and improve the capacities of the customary land authorities to administrate their lands in a manner that was fair, efficient, accountable and transparent.

Professor Fobih assured the chiefs and other traditional authorities that their role in that project would not be discarded, but they would rather be considered as invaluable partners in the project. Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister called on traditional rulers to assist the district assemblies to protect open spaces and waterways from encroachment.

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