No more indifference to land admin reforms
The lack of government initiative, as mentioned in a New Age report on Saturday, to implement the recommendations to reform the land administration even 13 years after they were made is indeed unfortunate. What is more intriguing is that the state minister for land administration, as he told New Age, is unaware of the project while the director general of the land records and surveys department claims to have sent the documents to the ministry soon after he assumed office. It is worth noting that the recommendations based on a feasibility study conducted by Landgate, a statutory body of the Western Australia government, in association with some other local and international agencies, in three phases from 1995 to 2000 were submitted to the ministry in December 2001. Moreover, a cabinet meeting on December 21, 2002 approved the project in principle while the concept paper regarding the project was sent to the Planning Commission on January 18, 2003.
The recommendations once made a reality to the letter and in spirit would abolish the task of assistant commissioner (land) and sub-registrar practiced under the current system giving rise to a single government authority to deal with all affairs regarding land. More importantly, they are intended to introduce a plot-based certificate of land ownership system replacing the current complex and cumbersome system of land transfer and record update. Overall, as the land records and surveys department director general argued, the proposed system would ‘ensure transparency at every step as well as quick delivery of services.’ Additionally, it would enable the process of land transaction mired in rampant corruption to get free from the malaise in a significant manner other than restoring public confidence in the process. Given these facts, one does not to be an expert to understand what actually made the land administration reforms project gather dust till date, a project that is to take 26 years in phases to get implemented at a proposed cost of near $56 million.
The implementation of the project is also important as far as the success of its efforts to reduce, if not end altogether, the case backlog problem that has haunted the nation for long is concerned. The backlog problem is largely attributable to the thousands of cases, civil and criminal, lodged by people engaged in clashes over land disputes. The sooner the government starts the project implementation, the better.
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