Sunyani, Jan 26, GNA - Professor Dominic Fobih, the Minister of Lands Forestry and Mines, on Wednesday opened the eighth annual conference of the Administrator of Stool Lands in Sunyani with a call on the office to work hard to hurdle over the challenges of the Land Administration Project (LAP).
"As the lead agency together with the national facilitator in the establishment of customary land secretariats in the country under the LAP, the success or failure of the exercise will hinge largely on your diligence to the task ahead and the level of co-operation between your outfit and the national facilitator's team", he said.
In his address read by Madam Theresa Amerley Tagoe, Deputy Minister in charge of Lands, Professor Fobih explained that by virtue of the fact that about 80 per cent of total landholding in the country was customary land rendered the establishment of the secretariats a very crucial component of the LAP.
He noted that the general indiscipline in the land sector, characterized by indeterminate boundaries, multiple sale of land and absence of land records, had been traced to the poor management practices employed by customary landowners.
"If the problem is to be addressed for the full benefit of all stakeholders and a proper and efficient land administration to be realized, then the government's agenda to strengthen and sharpen the management skills of traditional authorities through the Project must succeed", he said.
Prof Fobih stressed that the desire to see the LAP succeed must be the challenge of the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands in the next decade and beyond "and it is only when we have made that objective a reality that we can confidently brand the future prospects of the Office as very good".
He urged the staff of the Office to work harder this year towards the establishment of more than 20 customary land secretariats across the country, train their staff and effectively monitor and evaluate their operations.
Dr (Mrs) Matilda Fiadzigbey, the Administrator of Stool Lands, said the meeting was to map out new strategies for improving the services of the Office to stakeholders and to work out how it could improve collaboration with other land sector agencies and the LAP. She said the impact of the Office on beneficiary communities had been tremendous, saying it had recorded substantial increases in revenue mobilization and disbursement to stools/skins, relevant traditional authorities and District Assemblies.
"Our total revenue mobilization for 2005 amounted to more than 67 billion cedis (a provisional figure)", she said adding revenue projection for this year was 82 billion cedis.
Dr Fiadzigbey noted that some traditional authorities had used their share of stool land revenue to put up or renovate their palaces, conference halls, offices and awarded scholarships to needy students. She added that some district assemblies had also carried out development projects from their share of stool land revenue even though the source of funding was not often publicly acknowledged.
"These projects include the building of new structures and renovation of schools, guest houses, purchase of poles for electrification projects, scholarship schemes", the Administrator said. Dr Fiadzigbey said the Office wanted to redirect itself after 10 years of existence and the new focus included research into relevant topical land issues of concern with the view to addressing them, facilitating the establishment of customary land secretariats and reduction of conflict through facilitating the survey and demarcation of farmlands and through alternative dispute resolution. 26 Jan 06