Chairman of the Uganda Land Commission (ULC), discount Baguma Isoke has told the ongoing land probe that the non-capitalization of the Land Fund along with inadequate professional personel numbers is derailing the Commission in effectively managing of government land.
He said that poor funding has resulted in indebtedness, what is ed making it difficult for ULC to finance further land acquisitions for government.
“The Land Fund was conceptualized 18 years ago but has since never been actualized. The Land Act provides that a separate account be created for the Fund but this has never happened,” Isoke told the committee on Wednesday.
The Land Fund was created under Section 41 of the 1998 Land Act as a resource envelop with diverse targeted beneficiaries including tenants seeking to buy or own land, government seeking to buy land for redistribution to bonafide occupants or resettlement of the landless, loans to persons wanting to acquire titles or even survey their land.
“I have reported to the Minister of Land at several occasions but I have always been told to work within the funds available. Most of our priorities remain unfunded,” he added.
The former Minister of Lands added; “Some of the land owners brought their titles for sell to government because the tenants have made it difficult for them to develop their land. The purpose of the Fund was to ensure the landlords are paid and then the bonafide occupants of Bibanjas get legitimate ownership. ”
A total of 581 individuals have so far offered to sell their registered land to government, according to Isoke, but only a few have been paid and ULC is indebted by some Ush 200 billion in uncleared payments. The Ministry of Finance directed the Commission to halt further acquisition of land until the debt is cleared.
Out of the entire land owned by the government, only 50% of it has been surveyed and titled. The ULC boss said that despite the overwhelming work that needs to be done, the Commission lacks the required personnel to adequately deliver.
“We have only 22 staff and only 2 of these are professionals in land matters – a surveyor and a land economist. ULC needs a staff of 88 people at least in addition to office branches across the country,” Isoke said.
The probe committee questioned Isoke on claims that government land is being sold to individuals and investors but Isoke denied this saying the Commission only gives out leases for a specified period.