Land acquisition fund deemed unnecessary

The Public Accounts Committee is of the view that the Land Acquisition and Development Fund is a doubling-up of government functions and thus, unnecessary.

23 August 2019 | Agriculture

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts Committee questioned the existence of the Land Acquisition and Development Fund because government already has a finance system to purchase farms.

Addressing the management of the fund in Windhoek this week, the chairperson of the committee, Mike Kavekotora said there was no need for the fund because it is solely used to facilitate transactions for the government.

“There was no need for the establishment of the fund because it is a conduit through which funds are being channelled to acquire farms and bring them back to government,” he pointed out.

He raised a concern that salaries paid to staff members are an exorbitant amount within the fund's personnel expenses, under which the salaries are listed, at N$1.2 million and N$5.3 million in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The deputy executive director Ndiyakupi Nghituwamate justified the fund's existence by reading out the Act that established it.

According to the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act 6 of 1995, the fund was established to facilitate the process of any person in connection with the lease of any land allotted in terms of this act, or the cancellation of any such lease, including the payment of compensation, interest and costs.

The fund received a disclaimer audit report for the 2016/17 financial year by the auditor-general meaning that they could not provide an opinion on the financials of the institution to gauge its performance.

Throughout the public hearing, the committee noted that the fund has clerical issues such as listing farms with wrong hectare values, valuation reports that were not handed to the auditors on time and not being able to present deeds of sale. The acting executive director, Ester Kaapanda, clarified that these errors have however been addressed after she read the auditor-general's report two weeks ago and measures were put in place.

The deeds of sale for farms purchased during the 2016/17 financial year, which amounted to N$13.8 million, could not be traced by concerned land reform ministry staff at the time of the audit and therefore could not be verified.

As a remedial action, Kaapanda said the sub-division within the land reform ministry is now not allowed to accept farm transfer requests without a copy of the deed of sale attached.

NAMPA

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