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Tax idle land in urban centres, expert urges Govt

By David Lumu

Added 10th November 2016 09:18 PM

Key among the solutions is reforming the land laws in the country to provide escape routes for Government in case land owners refuse compensation

Tax idle land in urban centres, expert urges Govt

(L-R) Lands Minister Betty Amongi, Chris Baryomunsi the Minister of State for Housing, Savarino Katsigaire the acting Permanent Secretary in the Lands Ministry and Emmanuel Byaruhanga chat after the review meeting. Photo by Miriam Namutebi

Key among the solutions is reforming the land laws in the country to provide escape routes for Government in case land owners refuse compensation

A leading land expert has urged Government to tax idle land in urban centres as a mechanism of forcing land moguls and owners in the city to develop the huge vacant chunks of land in the country.

Dr. Frank Byamugisha argues that land reforms are part of the much needed catalysts for transforming Uganda to the already drafted agenda of turning into a middle-income country by 2020.

"Government must tax idle land. I know it is not easy but we have no choice. We have to tax undeveloped land in the country," he said.

Byamugisha was giving a key note address at the on-going first-ever joint review of the Ministry of lands, housing and urban development at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kampala.

Land experts, development partners headed by the World Bank and various Government officials are some of the over 200 people, who are attending the two-day joint review workshops, to among other things forge solutions for the emerging land challenges in the country.

The State Minister for Land, Persis Namuganza said, key among the solutions for the land challenges in the country, especially balancing the act between investment and land ownership, is reforming the land laws in the country to provide escape routes for Government in case land owners refuse compensation.

"We need amendments to the land law to handle these challenges. The Constitution provides for compensation in case of land acquisition requests from Government. But if a person refuse compensation; what should be done?  Government projects, including operation wealth creation are failing because of land disputes, and we need your support to sort out these challenges," Namuganza told stakeholders.

To jump out of the land quagmire that has gripped the country, Byamugisha has proposed four points—accelerating land registration to enhance tenure security and land transfer, re-designing the land fund to reduce landlessness in the country, strengthening of land institutions and the total implementation of the land and housing policies.

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