President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said it is the aim of his government to work assiduously to fully digitalize the operations of the Lands Commission to enable the registration of lands in a month.
According to him, most of the reforms needed to build efficient land administration in the country will be within the reach of the nation if the country is able to move away from manual to digital registration system which is currently ongoing at the Lands Commission, albeit slow.
Speaking at the swearing into office the new board of the Lands Commission, the President said: “You must work assiduously to ensure that the digitisation programme works. Our target is to ensure that title registration takes a maximum of one month, and, I dare say, the Ghanaian people will assess the success of your tenure based on how far this objective is achieved,” he said.
Delivering an address at the ceremony, the President indicated that the Lands Commission is required, on behalf of the President, to manage public lands, and any other lands vested in the President by the Constitution or any other law.
Additionally, the Commission is also meant to formulate and submit to government recommendations on national policy with respect to land use suitability or capability, and also advise on, and assist in execution of comprehensive programme for the registration of title to land throughout the country.
However, despite various interventions by successive governments, President Akufo-Addo indicated that most of the challenges in the country’s land administration still persist, including dishonest sales of lands, poor record keeping at the Commission, encroachment of public lands, and the fraudulent registration of land.
“For example, why should the same parcel of land be registered in the names of different people, when the same Lands Commission is responsible for registration? Why should documents or files submitted to the Lands Commission mysteriously disappear when the Lands Commission ought to be the chief custodian of such important documents? Why should it take years to register just a plot of land?” he asked.
The President added that the nation’s quest to transform the economy, to bring about the much-needed development and prosperity, cannot be achieved without effective land administration. “Investors will be frightened away if they spend good money to acquire land as a major tool for production, only to realise that what they acquired is litigation that spans years and decades,” he said.
Another disturbing issue, President Akufo-Addo noted, had to do with conflicting judicial decisions on the same parcels of land.
Citing several examples of cases in this regard, the President was encouraged to learn that the new Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor was engaging the Chief Justice on the matter, and urged all of them to give him maximum support to help ensure that the country finds a lasting solution to this problem.
“We cannot continue with business as usual. We must pursue institutional reforms necessary to anchor efficient land administration. These must include reforms in personnel, processes and the working culture of the Commission,” he said.
In respect of vested lands, the President stated that public lands allocated to government institutions remain public lands, vested in the President and managed by the Commission.
“Indeed, the new Lands Act prohibits the grant of any interest in public land, other than user rights, to any public institution. No public institution should, thus, deal in, grant or allocate any land without the express approval of the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, acting with my approval. The days when public lands are literally dissipated, without regard for the public interest, are over,” he added.