Professor Seth Opuni Asiama, Senior Lecturer, Department of Land Economy, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has called for the review of the Land Bill, which is currently before Parliament.
The Bill seeks to consolidate and harmonise in one simplified form, 166 existing laws relating to land, to regulate land use and enhance effective land management in the country.
Prof Asiama said aside the Bill having lots of gender issues, it also did not touch on the management of customary lands adding that customary lands constituted 80 per cent of lands in the country.
“You cannot have a Land Bill in the country that does not address customary lands. If it does not affect 80 per cent of the land resource in the country then what is the purpose of the law?” he said.
Prof Asiama said this in his presentation at the fifth National Development Forum, organised by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).
The forum, which registered about 200 participants including stakeholders in Land Governance, was held under the theme: “Long-term development Perspective on Land Governance and Ownership”.
Prof Asiama said there is the need to introduce land taxation, as this would not only help government generate funds, but would help in achieving planning objectives.
He said if there is a land tax, it is the person who owned that piece of land, which he was not developing who had to pay; and this would force him to develop the land.
He said in the area of land acquisition there is a need for people to carry out research; finding out the rightful land owners, as well knowing if the land was available or not, before proceeding to pay for it.
Prof Asiama said a lot of Ghanaians get into problems during land acquisition because they failed to take a little effort to verify from the Lands Commission.
“People are ignorant, therefore, we must continue with the public education, so that people get to know and also ensure the Lands Commission plays its role effectively”, he added.
Prof Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh, Vice Chairperson, NDPC, said it would be impossible to advance Ghana’s development agenda without a structured framework for land planning, acquisition and use, guided by coherent policies and regulations.
“Our development has to be situated in time and space, yet, year after year, we hear and in some cases we experience the deplorable treatment with the sale of land, the challenges with registration, and wonder why as a country we have tolerated this confusion”, she said.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Mr Daud Sulemana Mahama, Chief Executive Officer of the Lands Commission, said in terms of land administration, what the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) issue was a development permit.
He said the development permit or building permit was given to enable the land owners develop a property they purchased, whereas, the land title gives one the ownership of the land, but a condition for giving the permit was the fact that one owns the land.
Mr Mahama said many people fail to do the verification and because of the way some MMDAs operated, stating that they gave out these building permit, perhaps to people who do not own the land at all, and this leads to the challenges regarding land system.
He said the enforcement of rules and regulations was also very weak, adding that the MMDAs themselves did not have a very vigorous enforcement teams that would stop people who were building in unauthorised places.
He expressed the hope that an effective coordination between the Commission, MMDAs and the Land Use and Special Planning Authority, would help address some of these challenges.