The Liberian Senate Tuesday voted unanimously to pass, with significant modifications, the Liberia Land Authority Act (LLAA), submitted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Legislature in September 2014.
Proffering the motion to vote on the Act, Margibi County Senator Oscar A. Cooper highlighted the problems Liberians face regarding land ownership, and called on his colleagues to immediately pass the LLAA to help bring peace to both land owners and those desiring to purchase land.
The act has been sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence, and when fully passed into law, an autonomous agency of the government, called the Liberia Land Authority, which will be solely devoted to land matters, will be established.
The LLAA will take over the land functions previously carried out by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy; and the LME will thereafter be called the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Additionally, other land-related functions previously presided over by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Public Works, Center for National Documents and Records, and other agencies will also be transferred to the Land Authority.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment, Senator Albert Chie, told this paper that the establishment of the Land Authority “marks a fundamental step towards preparation for the sustainable management of all lands in Liberia, including the resolution of the perennial problems of land disputes. This one-stop agency for all land matters will oversee programs in land governance, including, inter alia, land administration, land use and management and land policy review and planning.”
According to the 25-page document, the activities of the Authority will be decentralized to ensure efficient and well-connected land governance. Land boards and offices will be located in each county; each land owing community will establish a Community Land Management Team and will form part and parcel of each County Development Association to govern and manage the land of communities in accordance with the proposed Land Rights Act of Liberia.
Briefing Legislative Reporters after the passage of the Act, Senator Chie said that the benefit of establishing this agency devoted only to land matters far exceeds any concern about the extra financial cost to the government.
The Grand Kru County lawmaker disclosed that the fiscal impact analysis for the establishment of this new agency has determined that starting resources already exist for manpower deployment and operations.
“All employees of divisions or agencies whose land functions are being overtaken by the Liberia Land Authority will be automatically transferred with their current salaries. Furthermore, there is committed funding from the government of the United States, the European Union, the Swedish government, the United Nations Peace Building Fund, the World Bank and other bilateral and multilateral sources,” Senator Chie said.