A proposed land bill – yet to be introduced to parliament – is expected to enforce the payment of monies into an established escrow account, mainly for the payment of compensation, before the acquisition of private land by the state can take place, Supreme Court Justice nominee, Professor Emmanuel Nii Ashie Kotey, has hinted.
“I am informed it is in the pipeline. I am not sure whether it is before parliament, but in the new land bill, which I was a part of putting together, we have tried to [solve the issue of] payment of compensation. In fact, it is provided that the money for compensation should be deposited in an escrow account before the acquisition can take place.
“So, we have tried to tighten the legal regime in respect of compensation; of course, there are other issues of rights of use and change of purpose,” he told members of the Appointments Committee during his vetting at Parliament House in Accra.
Currently, there are reportedly over 166 land laws which the new bill is trying to consolidate into one cohesive law that would incorporate all laws relating to land in the country.
This land bill, when approved and passed, is expected to help resolve land disputes and ensure that lands acquired by the state are devoid of litigation.
Governments, over the years, has had to grapple with the acquisition of some lands for infrastructural projects that will benefit the citizenry – largely because of family disputes, compensation packages, and rights of use among others.
The Lands Act 2016, section (1) stipulates that: the payment of money for or in respect of a licence or consent to assign, sub-let, or part with possession of, or dispose of, a land or property leased, shall not be required unless the lease contains an express provision requiring that payment.
It is also a consolidated form of the national land policy that came into effect in 1999 to better define land management and acquisition in the country.
Other issues expected to be tackled by the new bill include the renewal of leases and compulsory acquisition of lands by the state.
Furthermore, in the old administration of Lands Act, 1962 (Act 123), under declaration of interests in land, section (4) stipulates that: “The president may at any time require a stool to declare his interest in any land, and the Stool shall within three months of being notified in writing of such requirement send full particulars thereof to the minister”.
Also, in section 4 (2), in the event of any failure to declare an interest in any land within the period prescribed by subsection (1) of this section or of any question arising as to the existence or extent of any interest of the Stool in any land, the minister may determine the existence or extent of any interest of the stool in the land.
Government has already started carrying out key land reforms aimed at promoting transparency and efficiency in land administration, and easing bottlenecks associated with land registration in Ghana.
The focus of government’s digitisation programme is shifting to land registration and the process of acquiring a land title.