Thursday, March 06, 2008

Govt commits to improving land allocation procedures

Govt commits to improving land allocation procedures
By Chibaula Silwamba
Thursday March 06, 2008 [03:00]

THE Ministry of Lands has submitted to a World Bank delegation that it is addressing corruption vulnerabilities and timeliness in land allocation procedures as part of its efforts to improve the business environment in Zambia. According to the Ministry of Lands submission dated February 2008 to World Bank’s Doing Business delegation that visited Zambia, the time taken to register property in Zambia had been reduced from 70 days to 35 days.

“The purpose of this report is to provide updated information to the public and the World Bank on the time taken to process land transactions in Zambia in 2007 so that these updated and faster processing times may be considered by the World Bank to establish its 2009 estimate (in the Doing Business),” the ministry stated.

“The Ministry of Lands began a series of initiatives in 2007 to streamline and make more transparent the registration of lease transfers and the issuance of a new certificate of title at the lands and deeds registry.

“These activities include: systematic assessment of bottlenecks and redesign of business processes; design of a new automated and more secure lands registration system; refurbishment and reorganisation of the lands and deeds registry; establishment of a set of core values such as excellence, efficiency and collaboration to enhance staff productivity and reduce corruption in land transactions; and provision of new computers to more staff and improved survey processing software,” read the submissions.

The Ministry of Lands stated that the objective of the changes was to reduce the estimated 52 days required by the lands and deeds registry to register a lease transfer and issue a new certificate of title within 35 days.

To streamline the lease transfer process, the ministry submitted that it plans to implement a Zambia land administration system to replace the land information management system to further accelerate processing time at the lands and deeds registry and the commissioner of lands.

“We plan to incorporate a Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) representative at the new Ministry of Lands customer service centre to be launched in May 2008. This official will provide tax forms and authorise payment of Property Transfer Tax (PTT) at commercial bank facilities in the Ministry of Lands, potentially reducing the average number of days to collect tax forms and to pay PTT from five days to two days,” the ministry stated. “We plan to implement customer service standards and accountability-oriented management systems which will set and enforce timelier processing of lease transfer applications.”

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