MPs task gov't to revise land transfer fees

Environment Minister Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya addresses the Chamber of Deputies' Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, as Espérance Mukamana, Director-General of Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority, takes notes at Parliament on Tuesday, February 25, 2020. Photo by Craish Bahizi

The fee charged on land transfer is a burden to citizens with small plots especially in rural areas and they need to be revised, Members of Parliament have told the Ministry of Environment.

MPs argued that charging Rwf30, 000 for the completion of a transaction for each parcel of land regardless of its size, location and value was not a good idea.

They were speaking on Tuesday, February 25, during a session in which the Minister of Environment was appearing before the Chamber of Deputies’ Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment.

The Minister was summoned to provide explanations about the implementation of the March resolutions of January 23, and February 28, 2020, that the Parliamentary plenary had adopted and given to the Ministry of Environment for execution.

In one of the resolutions, Parliament had requested the ministry to highlight strategies to address the issue of the fee that some citizens had said was huge. MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa, the vice-chairperson of the  Committee, said citizens proposed that charging land transfer fee should consider different aspects such as the location of the land, its size and value.

“If someone is transferring 20 Ares of land (a fifth of a hectare) has to pay Rwf30,000 for the transaction and the same fee is charged for the transfer of 15 hectares is not fair,” she asked.

The Minister of Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, who was accompanied by Esperance Mukamana, Director-General of Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority, said the Ministry had been discussing that issue which citizens had brought to the attention of lawmakers with various institutions including the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Breaking down the fee, the Minister said that it consists of 20,000 for the actual land transfer, Rwf5,000 for the land title, and Rwf5,000 paid to the notary. In line with bringing down the cost, she told Parliament that the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority has started a system to offer paperless (online) land titles.

With this arrangement, she said, a person will not have to pay the Rwf5,000 charged for the soft copy and title unless they want us to print it for them,” pointing out that the paper on which it is printed was expensive.

“In fact, it is inconceivable that a person who has sold 25 square meters of land pays the same fee as the person who sold 25 hectares of land. That way, we would not be delivering justice to the people,” she observed.

“We are going to do our best so that such a fee be lowered… In the days to come, we will present to you how we have solved this problem,” she said adding that the fee should also be based on the value of the land and its location.

Overall, more than 10.67 million plots of land have been registered since land registration programme inception in 2009, while more than 1.47 million plots not yet recorded, according to statistics from Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority.

With 26.338 km2 of surface area, Rwanda's average plot size is small. For instance, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, 30 per cent of rural households have farm size less than 0.2 ha, cultivating only 5.4 per cent of national cultivable land estimated at1.5 million hectares.

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