Posted : 01 Jan, 2017 00:00:00
Recast land-use policy suiting high-value agriculture, industry
Economists suggest digitising land management system
Experts called for digitising all government land offices for better land-management system and ensuring efficient land-use in high-value agriculture and industry.
Such transformation, according to their view, will also help resolve land-related legal disputes and backlog of land suits.
They called for optimum use of land for productive purposes in the light of an increasing need for land scarcity in the country.
Their views came during a discussion session on 'Land Management in Bangladesh' organised Saturday as part of the third BEF conference held in the capital.
Speaking on the occasion, eminent economist and Chairman of Economics Research Group Professor Wahududdin Mahmud said, "One of the biggest constraints for lack of good governance in Bangladesh is land dispute. This is also a big cause of corruption as well."
He identified market distortion and interference by middlemen as main reasons for the manipulation of land prices in the country.
"A big chunk of remittance money is invested in land, which is also driving up the price of land in the country," Prof Mahmud said.
He also observed that land has become a source of tax evasion and an area for the whitening of black money.
Professor Mahmud warned that such manipulation of land prices is preventing productive use of land, increasing the housing cost for the urban people with limited income while causing the skyrocketing of the price for industrial land.
Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, who chaired the session, called for digitisation of land-management system to ease the lengthy regulatory and legal processes that stand in the way of efficient land management.
He also called for strengthening the local government so that it can play a more effective role in efficient land management at rural level.
Executive Director of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development Dr. Mustafa K Mujeri in his speech said that unequal power structure and political factors are important aspects leading to land expropriation and redistribution in Bangladesh.
"Most of the land-reform efforts in the country had limited success mostly because redistribution was not effective and tenancy reform was poorly designed," he told the meet on land which is considered the mother - cause of most civil and criminal court cases in the country.
Pointing out that land market in Bangladesh is not adequately developed Dr Mujeri called for identifying unique features of Bangladesh's rural land market and developing the market while maintaining cohesion with its own features as well as the market economy.
Former Director of UNIFAD Dr Mohiuddin Alamgir in his keynote speech said that, to achieve developed-country status by 2021, Bangladesh would require efficient and equitable use of scarce land with a synchronised approach to all aspects of spatial planning from national planning to decentralisation.
He also highlighted the concept of compact townships or planned small townships in rural areas, which he said could be fitted into the comprehensive spatial plan.
Director-General of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Dr. KAS Murshid in his speech said a lot of problems with the land issues can be solved if the land market can be made more competitive and efficient.
He also called for ensuring property rights for the people and establishing the rule of law to ensure better justice in land-related disputes.
"If we wish to go for high-value agriculture and industry, we have to make more efficient use of our land and invest more in human capital," he told the audience.
Speakers at the session also underlined the need for the automation of Upazila AC Land and sub-registrar offices to expedite the process of land management up to the grassroots level.
They also emphasised better cohesion among various departments to ensure better coordination in land-management process.