General News Fri, 28 Mar 2008

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Lands Commission Bill to be unveiled

Honourable Esther Obeng- Dappah, Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines (MP) has given the assurance that the new Lands Commission Bill which is now being considered by Cabinet would be promulgated soon. She said the bill which is targeted essentially at sanitising the land administration system in the country had been endorsed by the Attorney-General and the Ministry of Justice and would soon be laid before Parliament.

Dilating on government’s broad policy guideline on compulsorily acquired lands, Hon. Obeng-Dappah emphasised that government would no longer entertain any request on acquisitions for which compensation had already been paid. She said Executive Instruments on compulsory acquisitions would not be revoked because of encroachment adding that encroachment would now be regularised at a penalty. The Minister averred that where government deemed it necessary to cede a portion of the acquired land to the original owners, this would not exceed 50% of the undeveloped portion. Hon. Obeng-Dappah said government was also exploring alternative means of paying compensation for land it had acquired including shares in viable state companies and the payment of an annual sum in lieu of lump sum payments.

The Hon. Minister out-doored the new guidelines at the 7th Implementation Support Mission of the Land Administration Project (LAP), a 5-year project co-ordinated by the Ministry and jointly funded by a number of development partners and the Government of Ghana. The 15-day mission which is aimed at updating stakeholders of LAP on progress chalked by the project over the last 9 months, is also expected to generate strategies for the advancement of the project. Development Partners supporting the LAP include the World Bank, (WB); KfW; Department for International Development, (DFID) ; German Agency For Technical Cooperation, (GTZ); Nordic Development Fund, (NDF) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

Since its inception, Hon Esther Obeng-Dappah recognised that the project had made considerable strides in such components as Landuse planning, establishment of Land Registries, customary boundary demarcation as well as computerised land Information Systems. She indicated that government was also considering proposals for the establishment of an equipment pool to support the private sector in delivering surveying services to the public.

The Hon. Minister affirmed that government’s commitment to the realisation of the objectives of the project is amply reflected in its request to the development partners to extend the project’s closing date by two years- from 31st December 2008 to December 2010.

Presenting a progress report on the project, Dr Odame Larbi, the Project Director of LAP, intimated that land registration services had been decentralised to all regional capitals with the exception of the Central Region. The Project Director announced that turn around time for deeds registration had been reduced from 36 to 2 months while search for and accessibility to information had also improved considerably. He said the National Land Forum conducted to collate views of stakeholders for the drafting of the new Land Act was successfully staged in all ten regional capitals of the country.

In his welcome address, Mr Ahmed Bin Salih, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, urged participants to bring their rich experiences on land administration projects around the world to bear on the deliberations to enable the Mission unearth practical solutions to address problems confronting the land administration system in the country.

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