Kabul Tomorrow Unknown
Kandahar Tomorrow Sunny
Herat Tomorrow Unknown
Mazar-i-sharif Tomorrow Unknown
Ghazni Tomorrow Sunny
Jalalabad Tomorrow Sunny
Bamiyan Tomorrow Sunny
Zaranj Tomorrow Sunny
Mimana Tomorrow Party cloudy
The Killid Group
Land privatization a mixed blessingWritten by Amin Saba
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 15:53
The setting up of the new Afghan Land Commission and the expected move to lease state-owned lands to the private sector is a mixed blessing. If implemented well, the move could earn a great deal of revenue for the Afghan government, providing an impetus for economic growth. However if it is not administered properly, the step could lead to the amassing of state land in the hands of a land mafia without any benefits to the Afghan people.
On the positive side, millions of acres of fallow land, which has not been irrigated and are lying unused, could be put to better use. It would provide an opportunity for the private sector to contribute to economic growth and provide a way out of the current economic problems. However privatization also brings with its concerns related to an unsupervised and unregulated free market.
It is difficult to envisage a suitable mechanism for supervision and control of private sector because of rampant corruption in the government. In the past land deeds certifying ownership have been issued in exchange for bribes. Lands which were supposed to be only leased were later discovered to have been transferred to private individuals who have been provided with the ownership documents. Since the Afghan government has not been able to identify all its lands, these lands can be illegally seized by unscrupulous elements.
As much as 67% of the land area of Afghanistan has not been surveyed. According to the report from former Minister of Urban Development Yusuf Pashtoon, approximately more than 3 million acres across the country in the best areas and locations have been taken illegally by local powerful men and even some government officials. The Afghan government has not been able to take back these lands.
If Afghan officials do not lease these lands under a transparent plan and rules, there will be suspicions about these lands being seized by powerful men after a lapse of time. Assurance of transparency in each process of development is essential, especially when it comes to issues related to the use of national resources.