Business News of Monday, 12 November 2012

Source: thebftonline

Land reform cash held back

The slow start of the Land Administration Project Phase II (LAP II) has created a disbursement gap that needs to be bridged, the World Bank has said.

The project has a World Bank (IDA) commitment of US$50million; however, only US$5million has so far been disbursed by the Bank, mainly due to the slow start.

LAP II seeks to decentralise land service delivery, deepen institutional policy and legal reforms, and raise the awareness of smallholders, vulnerable groups and landowners in general about their rights and responsibilities.

The World Bank said a number of actions including a review of policies on land-related fees and taxes, development of business plans for Customary Land Secretariats (CLSs), and a national spatial data infrastructure policy are needed to catch up quickly with the disbursement gap.

It said immediate attention is also required in survey and mapping, as well as national spatial data infrastructure policies. Refurbishment and automation of courts and completion of pre-trial manual and training of surveyors on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms are additional steps required to be taken.

Achievement of these conditions will facilitate the release of the remaining funds committed to the project.

This was contained in a Projects Implementation Status Report published by the World Bank in Accra.

The World Bank’s assessment of the project indicated that, so far, all the implementing units are in place and activities are going on at all levels of implementation in accordance with the approved annual work plan and budget.

“The mission noted that approaches and terms of references for key project activities have already been agreed and procurement is at advanced stages for many of these activities. As such, implementation on the ground will soon accelerate significantly and the project will catch up with the disbursement gap that was created by the slow start,” the Bank said.

To maximise project outcomes, LAP II -- while national in nature -- focuses on selected project activities including development of land registries, production of base-maps, customary boundary demarcation, and land use and planning primarily in four regions: Greater Accra, Western, Ashanti and Northern.

The Land Administration Project (LAP) was originally designed as an Adaptable Programme Loan (APL) with a 15-25 year perspective -- consistent with the long-term policy objectives of the government.

It was formulated during 1999-2001 to address major issues raised in the National Land Policy of 1999 and other studies, some dating back more than 30 years.

The first phase of the project was intended to lay the foundation for implementation of a long-term land administration reform.

It was to provide an enabling environment for exploration, testing and learning by carrying out key land reform activities. But in the course of the project preparation and processing, a decision was made to change it from an APL to a Specific Investment Loan (SIL).

After nearly four years of implementation, the design of LAP 1 was found to be too complex to allow implementation be completed on time. Therefore, a decision was made to restructure it in 2008 and to extend its implementation by an additional three years. It was originally a five-year programme projected to end in 2008, but ended in 2011.

The restructuring focused implementation away from an ambitious programme of surveying and titling hundreds of thousands of land parcels to laying a policy and institutional foundation and piloting initiatives in land administration with a view to scaling-up in future.