Opinion and Analysis
Treasury should find funds for lands registry digitisation
Posted Sunday, May 27 2012 at 17:16
Treasury’s failure to fully fund automation at the Lands ministry registry has poured cold water on the reforms process at the ministry.
If the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) study conducted in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Nakuru registries is anything to go by, the digitisation work has been slowed down by inadequate funding and the ministry’s dependence on casual workers to implement the project.
ISK also established that the ministry did not involve officials on the ground, who are expected to implement the project, in its planning.
Land reform is one of the key objectives of the Agenda Four changes proposed by the panel of eminent personalities that negotiated an end of the 2007-8 post-election stalemate.
The new Constitution prioritises the land reform agenda in which data automation is a key pillar.
Radical new proposals in the proposed national land policy aim to change the entrenched culture of inefficiency and graft at the Lands ministry, which routinely features among the most corrupt government agencies in polls.
Indeed, automation of data at the ministry is meant to curb rampant corruption and ease access of information.
For some time, there appeared to be political will to ensure that the digitisation process runs its course.
Last year, President Kibaki assured Kenyans that the government was improving the investment climate and gaining ground in the fight against corruption by digitising information of key sectors in the economy, including the lands sector.
The government said it would use part of a Sh12.8 billion credit facility from the World Bank to digitise land records.
But while the ministry needed Sh3.6bn in the past two years to implement the digitisation project, the Treasury allocated it a paltry Sh370million.
Past efforts to reform the way land records are stored have run up against the entrenched interests of corrupt networks and career bureaucrats who benefit from the current system.
Stalling automation that is expected to speed up service delivery and allow for payment of rates through mobile money transfer systems is unacceptable.
Treasury should find money to fund this crucial pillar in the Lands ministry reform crusade.