The National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS) in its response to the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) report on “Leasing of Government Land, Government Reserved Forest Land and Mines” cited excessive responsibilities, lack of clear written land policy, no proper institutions capacity and human resources.
The RAA report found that the various inadequacies and inconsistencies in policy, legal and institutional frameworks on leasing of the land.
NLCS Secretary Dasho Sangay Khandu said the commission has responsibilities with land governance which administers surveying, mapping of land and exercise judicial authority in land disputes.
With the commission established, the responsibilities were to carry out registration of government land which was not registered till 2007.
He said that the institutions being new was ill-prepared to conduct National Cadastral Re-survey to determine excess land and try to resolve the problem and address the issue in five years, whereby the first cadastral survey took decades with the limited capacities in terms of human and financial resources.
The Secretary also talked on lack of qualified human resource in the commission as government do not provide adequate further studies opportunity for the manpower and reluctance of officers to join the commission.
He stated that the commission has to even take up the responsibility of 28 judiciary offices.
He also said, with the increase in land issues, the responsibility of land officials in dzongkhags also increased, and the land clerks became head of the land sector without individual capacity being enhanced.
Regarding the set of clear land policy he said that though the Land Act 2007 was passed, the commission, to put legal framework in place had to write rules and regulations for land accusations, registrations, exchange and develop a land lease system which was totally new to Bhutan.
On the other hand, the commission submitted the draft land policy in December 2007 which the Secretary said was never approved.
On the RAA report that the construction of permanent structures on government land is not be permitted, the Secretary said long-term lease is allowed up to 30 years.
As per Section 84 and section 87 of the Land Lease Rules and Regulations 2009, which states that for the land allotted for temporary lease the long term construction is not permitted and if carried out and not renewed the authority can dismantle and no compensation paid.
NLCS has non-permanent secretaries from relevant sectors. Land exchange and replacement is decided by the commission but land lease for short-term and temporary lease is carried out by the dzongkhag.
Land was easily accessible in Bhutan in the early 60s and land tax was one of the major sources of revenue for the government. The land administration and management prior to the development process was not entrusted to any government agencies. On the system of registration and measurement, different regions used their own types of measurement.
The Secretary said that the transformation of old measurement system into the modern technological one leads to the excess land. In 1964, land record office was with Ministry of Finance solely for the taxation purpose.
As the issue is not new for the commission, Secretary recommends RAA report as a positive development and an opportunity.