Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament are unhappy over the failure of the Lands Commission to collect ground rents of over GH¢1.6m owed the commission.
According to the 2017 report of the Auditor-General, 483 lessees/assignees owed ground rents totalling GH¢1.6m for the period December 1975 to December 2015.
The report said lessees at East Legon owed GH?251,344, while Airport residential assignees owed GH¢380,851. Assignees at South Legon also owed GH¢441,491.
Lessees within the East Legon ambassadorial area owed GH¢212,608 and those within Osu owed GH¢369,546.
The Auditor-General stated that his office’s interactions with head of the Ground Rent Management Unit of the commission indicate that the build-up in outstanding ground rent was due to the ignorance of the lessees/assignees of their obligations.
During deliberations on Monday at the Public Accounts Committee sitting, chairman of the committee, James Kluste Avedzi, was in shock over the development and questioned why residents of prime areas such as East Legon and Osu owed the commission to that magnitude.
Responding to the audit findings, the Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, Sulemana Mahama, told the committee that the commission is currently engaging the services of a consultant to assist with the collection of the debts.
“We have a serious difficulty with collecting ground rents, and we have devised several strategies to try to improve upon that, but it is still difficult for us. What we have now decided to do is to get paid consultants to try to retrieve as much as we can,” a frustrated Sulemana Mahama told members of the committee.
Ranking Member on the committee Kofi Okyere-Agyekum urged the commission to privatise the collection of ground rents to generate the needed resources.
Responding to the issue, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio, who accompanied the commission’s officials, assured the committee that the digitisation agenda of the government will enhance the commission’s work to enable it easily identify debtors.