FAO offers technical support for land reform

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Windhoek

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)’s Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) has allocated NS1.9 million for support of a ‘Technical Support Land Reform and Tenure in Namibia Project,’ which is expected to achieve results within eight months following the launch.

The project aims at smooth implementation of the government’s land reform policies and it specifically targets the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the Namibian land administration system in services related to land taxation and valuation.

The TCP was signed last week between the Ministry of Land Reform (MLR) and the FAO. The project will – for the first time – initiate a regulatory basis on which open market valuations are conducted. The MLR will take a lead in implementation and operational aspects of the project will be handled by the Directorate of Valuation and Estate Management.

The Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), the Attorney General’s Office and the Namibian Council for Property Valuers Profession (NCPVP) will be among key stakeholders in the implementation.

The development comes while the MLR strives to integrate the work of the Committee on World Food Security, hosted by the FAO and endorsed in 2012 in the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’ (VGGT) – an unprecedented global consensus on principles and practices to which governments and other actors can refer when defining policies, making laws and administering legitimate tenure rights to land, fisheries and forests.

The MLR aims to become a continental leader in improving land administration. To this end the ministry has embarked on a deliberate programme of improving its land administration systems, that include land information management, computerisation of deeds registration, property valuation and taxation and land use planning.

The agricultural (commercial) land tax basis in Namibia is an assessment of the market value of agricultural land.

MLR and its Directorate of Valuation and Estate Management are responsible for the delivery of commercial farm valuations.

With FAO assistance the MLR undertook a study into agricultural land prices in Namibia in 2012, which provided empirical evidence on the causal factors that influence land prices. General valuations of commercial farms have been carried out by MLR and DV&EM effective from 2002 and 2007. The 2012 general valuation has, however, been set aside due to procedural and Constitutional challenges. Comments made by the Valuation Court during the objection process require improvements in the underlying mass appraisal model to include the key factors that influence value and up-to-date data.

It is against the background of the issues raised in the 2012 valuation roll that the current project has been framed. The FAO, through its representative in Namibia, will support government in carrying out the project to enhance the governance of land tenure within the framework of VGGT.

FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme will contribute by drawing in specialised international experts in the fields of valuation standards, computer-assisted mass appraisal, agricultural land price indices, and legal drafting to regulate the market valuations for agricultural (commercial) land tax.

This global expertise will complement the government and MLR’s own experts and consultants and will transfer international best practices and knowledge by reviewing the overall legislative framework of agricultural (commercial) land tax, valuation methodology, standards and tools, the quality and quantity of the valuation input data, including the valuation and mass appraisal model, as well as an agricultural land price index.

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