Sunyani, May 23, GNA - Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, on Monday urged the Lands Commission, Land Title Registry and all other lands sector agencies to team up to educate the public on land administration in the country.
He noted that the ignorance of customers about the procedures and fees chargeable in land administration "creates fertile grounds for corrupt practices by some officers and unauthorized agents". Inaugurating the Brong Ahafo Regional Deed Registry Office in Sunyani, Professor Fobih stressed the urgent need to reduce and eliminate the ignorance through intensive and extensive public education.
He appealed to traditional authorities and landowners to register their lands to reduce litigation as well as providing secured land banks to prospective investors and gave the assurance that the Ministry would actively support the operations of the registries to enable them to deliver prompt and cost-effective services.
"By this way we will justify the trust reposed in us by Ghanaians in a matter as delicate as land", he said.
The Minister stressed that the government, upon the realisation of the crucial role that land plays in the daily lives of the people sought assistance to prosecute the Land Administration Project. He said the Project had become synonymous with good governance and wealth creation, as safe and secured land with proper titles, free from any encumbrances would be exploited, farmed on, sold or mortgaged to generate income.
Professor Fobih explained that the Deed Registry was one of the key requirements for land administration, adding: "Indeed our development partners see it as a crucial factor of development and have assisted us to establish these Registries.
He said the inauguration of the Registry in the Brong Ahafo capital was the second in the series of four planned for the year, naming Sekondi, Koforidua and Tamale as the other regional capitals. The Minister added that with the establishment of the deed registries, the issuance of Valid Tax Clearance Certificates had been decentralised and the Internal Revenue Service mandated to implement the directive.
Professor Fobih said the Ministry was aware of delays in the granting of concurrence and collection of unauthorized charges and fees by some staff of the Regional Lands Commission, which posed a threat to the efficient administration of land service delivery. He entreated members of the Brong Ahafo Regional Lands Commission to put in place a mechanism to facilitate the speedy issuance of concurrence for land disposal so that the laudable objectives of decentralisation of registration of land under Land Administration Project could be achieved.
"The bane of many projects that are intended to benefit people has been the bureaucratic formalities, delays and corrupt practices experienced at the hands of officers put in charge of these projects", the Minister noted.
He warned: "In this era of transparency, accountability and rule of law, nobody will be shielded when caught in any act that would derail the good intentions for the establishment of the deed registries. "Consequently, the staff and more importantly the Registrars will be held answerable for any lapses detected and brought to our knowledge".
Alhaji Ibrahim Baryeh, Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, conceded that the entire system of land registration was "fraught with unclear and slow procedures, delays and opportunities for corruption". He urged the staff of the Land Title Secretariat and Deed Registry and the Lands Commission to do their best to take the whole activity from unnecessary bureaucratic procedures to commerce where efficiency and dispatch are the hallmarks".
The Executive Secretary noted with regret that some unscrupulous people were able to imitate official documents of the Deed Registries, Lands Commission, Land Valuation Board and the Director of Surveyors. Alhaji Baryeh urged the management of the Brong Ahafo Regional Registry as well as other stakeholders to ensure that the integrity of the Registry was not jeopardised.
Nana Kwaku Aterkyie 11, Omanhene of Kukuom Traditional Area and Chairman of the Brong Ahafo Lands Commission commended the government for the establishment of the Deed Registry in the Region.
The Omanhene, a land valuer by profession, appealed for a machine for the stamping of instruments under the Stamp (duty) Act) by the Land Valuation Board in Sunyani to facilitate the land registration process as documents would still have to be sent to Kumasi for that purpose. Present were Ms Therese Tagoe, Deputy Minister of Lands Forestry and Mines and Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister.