Regional News of Tuesday, 14 June 2005
Koforidua, June 14, GNA - A Deed Registry to cater for the Eastern and Volta Regions has been inaugurated at Koforidua on Monday to facilitate the registration of land related instruments and save landowners and developers the problem of commuting to Accra for the purpose.
The Registry, which is the third after those inaugurated at Sekondi and Sunyani, this year, would be operational as from July 1, with that of Tamale to be inaugurated soon. The Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Prof. Dominic Fobih, announced this in an inaugural address read on his behalf by a Deputy Minister of the Ministry, Madam Theresa Amerley Tagoe
Under the Ministry's Land Administration Project to address constraints in the land sector, a 15-year programme, divided in three phases of five years each, was being implemented to develop an efficient, decentralized and cost-effective land administration system capable of enhancing land tenure security.
According to Prof. Fobih, many Ghanaians and foreign investors have expressed dissatisfaction with the current land management system in the country, ranging from accessibility, security of tenure, conflicts and long and cumbersome registration procedures, saying this could not be allowed to continue as it had grave consequences for the nation.
The Minister called on traditional rulers, land owners, investors and the general public to register their lands to derive the benefits, citing increased security of tenure for investment in labour and capital and also as a collateral to secure credit for investment. He announced that to further enhance speedy land registration, the issuance of valid Tax Clearance Certificate for purposes of land registration had been decentralized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Prof. Fobih, who warned the staff of the Registry to let their behaviour be above board, asked them to assist prospective registrants to register their documents instead of cheating on them. He directed that fees and charges by the Registry must be displayed at vantage points for the attention of the public and warned that the Ministry would not hesitate to sanction any officer or middleman found to have cheated any member of the public.
The Minister advised that whenever and wherever land litigations cases occurred, the mechanism of Alternative Dispute Resolution be used to settle them to help avoid high cost associated with the normal judicial system or courts.
Madam Tagoe presented the Registrar of the Koforidua Registry, Mr Stephen Donkor, with the tools of his office which included the Bible, Koran and Crucifix and urged him to ensure fairness and honesty in his work.
The Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, Alhaji Hamidu Ibrahim Baryeh, noted that the over-centralisation of land administration in the country had often led to unnecessary delays in the processing and registration of documents on land. According to him, the inefficiency that over-centralisation had engendered also resulted in frustrations, litigation, land speculation and even civil strife which had combined to undermine the land administration system in the country.
Alhaji Baryeh called on the Regional Lands Commission and the Registry would do all they could to ensure that the objective of the Regional Registry as a change agent, was achieved to enable government's development plans as far as land administration was concerned, were not hampered by conflicting claims. He asked the staff of the Registry to be efficient in their duties and avoid bureaucratic procedures and corrupt practices that would waste the efforts, time and energy of registrants.
The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Yaw Barimah in a speech read on his behalf, noted that land resource was a valuable national asset serving as foundation for socio-economic and political development but expressed concern that its management had over the years been beset with a lot of disputes. He, therefore, welcomed the setting up of the Deeds Registry in the region as a significant development, since it would help end the burden of land owners and developers of commuting to and fro Accra to process their deeds. Mr Barimah commended the government and its developing partners for making the project a reality and cautioned the staff of the Registry to exhibit maximum efficiency and transparency in their work to make the project more beneficial to the people.
The Chairman of the Eastern Regional Lands Commission, Dr Ebenezer Moses Debrah, in a welcoming address, who noted that over-centralisation of the activities of the Department in Accra served as a disincentive on the ability of landowners and prospective developers in the region to register their lands their interests. He described the establishment of the Registry in the region presented a unique and exciting prospect for re-energizing the capacity of the Commission to face the challenges and opportunities that lied ahead in the efforts to simplify the land delivery process in the country.
The Chairman of the National Lands Commission, Mr Justice Isaac Aboagye, urged the people to give the Registry the maximum support, while the staff should be cautious towards the public who come to transact business with the office. The Omanhene of the New Juaben Traditional Area, Daasebre Dr Oti Boateng, who chaired the function, said the state of land use determined a nation's development at all levels and asked the people in the region to appreciate the need for accurate recording of their land title deeds to curtail the high spate of land disputes. He hoped chiefs in the region would contribute towards educating their people to making full use of the Registry to protect their lands and make them valuable assets for national development.