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Minister inaugurates National Lands Commission
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General News of Friday, 21 August 2009

Source: GNA

Minister inaugurates National Lands Commission

Accra, Aug. 21, GNA - Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on Friday urged members of the reconstituted National Lands Commission, to work hard to rebuild its image and restore public confidence in the land administration system. He said there was general staff indiscipline, poor attitude towards work and depraved work ethics.

Alhaji Dauda, inaugurating a 19-member reconstituted Commission, said some of the many land cases in the courts stemmed from the fact that some personnel of the commission were not working professionally. He said there were reports of manipulation and mutilation of records, giving rise to unnecessary litigation and undue delays in service delivery.

The Minister noted that proper management of land could be a very good basis for wealth creation and a source of poverty reduction. He tasked the Commission to ensure that the ownership and use of land resources result in optimum benefits to the people. Alhaji Dauda asked the members to offer advice on appropriate policies that would address the numerous challenges facing the land tenure system and to set the land administration on the right course. "It is, however, ironic that our land tenure system is also one of the banes of our socio-economic development. We have a large number of unregistered rights and interests, unplanned settlements, a high rate of encroachments on state lands, high rate of litigation - which sometimes takes years to complete - constitute a drain on the resources of the litigants, and also the cause of the activities of land guards," he added.

The Commission was also tasked to review the processes and procedures for registering land, starting from the preparation of site plans to reduction of bureaucracy, inefficiencies, fraudulent practices and frustrations of the public.

Alhaji Dauda said what the people expected was a stress-free process for registering land and asked surveyors to desist from preparing site plans on the same piece of land for more than one person.

He said the Commission should put in mechanisms to ensure that professional surveyors did not authenticate the work of quack surveyors, in order to reduce the numerous land litigation cases in the country. The Minister urged the members to make public interest supreme in the management of state lands, saying, "Lands acquired for public purposes must be used for the purposes for which they were acquired or for other public purposes".

He said government's intention to return lands acquired by the state, which were no longer needed for the purpose for which they were acquired or for other public purposes to their original owners, still stood.

He said the difficulty had been identifying the right owners to deal with and urged the Commission to assist in that effort by consulting the traditional institutions such as the Regional and National Houses of Chiefs when necessary.

Alhaji Dauda said government was aware of the quantum of outstanding compensation in respect of lands acquired by the state, adding that even though the return of unutilized lands was part of the efforts to be addressed, the Commission must also find other innovative ways of dealing with the issue and advise government, especially given the financial constraints facing the nation. "The challenges of the land sector are enormous but they are solvable. I have no doubt that this Commission has what it takes to deal with them. The ministry will assist in every way possible to enable you to deliver," he added.

Nana Agyei Ampofo, Chairman of the Commission, thanked President John Evans Atta Mills for the confidence reposed in them and pledged their preparedness to work hard to achieve results. He called for team work and dedication from members to enable them to deliver well.

The chairman told the members to be united and not to underestimate each other's ideas and reprimand each other with respect. "When the chairman is going astray and you refuse to call him to order, his failure or success would be your shared responsibility; so I want all of you to team up with me to give of our best," he added.

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