Idle land owners have been poked by a new policy by the Ministry of lands that seeks to impose taxes on one of the most sought after assets in the country, land. Implementation of the new policy is subject to adoption by the National Assembly and Senate.
Speaking during the Inaugural Retreat for the Senate Committee on Land, Environment and Natural Resources in Mombasa, the Cabinet Secretary for lands told senators to push for the adoption of the new law.
If implemented, the new policy could restrict the activities of idle land speculators which have a tendency to push up land prices. This usually occurs when demand for land is at the mercy of suppliers who can withhold as long as they want from the market.
Ms Faridah Karoney explained to the senators that this was in line with the ministry’s land taxation policy on Rural Settlement Planning that seeks to provide a package of incentives to encourage productive and sustainable use of land and disincentives for keeping idle land.
While bidding for more funding to support the ministry’s programmes at both national and county level, Ms Karoney said the premises of the new policy is also ingrained in the national Land Use Policy and the National Spatial Planning Policy.
The ministry has in the past determined that there were vast chunks of land lying idle in the Coast and other parts of the country, some with untraceable owners.
While the country often grapples with shortage of affordable land for critical projects, this may be seen as an incentive for lending the application more land to agriculture, housing and other commercial purposes especially by private owners.
The Senators also sought to answers from the CS regarding the online registry developed by the ministry, raising concerns over the security of documents online. Earlier, LSK had wanted the ministry to review the electronic registration and transfer system due to concerns over conveyancing regulations and as well as legality of transactions over the system.
The CS said that the system had been tested for security and safety, and the ministry has installed back up facilities. The system can now be accessed on the e-Citizen platform.