4 October 2012

Namibia: Commercial Farm Valuations Nearly Complete

Windhoek — About 92 percent of all commercial agricultural farming properties in the country have been verified, according to the 2012 Provisional Valuation Roll launched in Windhoek yesterday.

The Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus !Naruseb, is now urging owners of the remaining farms to have their farms verified during the 30-day period ending October for the exercise to be completed.

"I would like to advise those owners who will fail to do so that under the regulation, punitive measures [will be] meted out in instances of non-compliance, including back-dating payment of tax owing to the 2004/5 financial year when the first tax was collected," !Naruseb warned at the launch of the valuation roll.

A total of 12 882 farms were verified. Most of them are in the Hardap Region and the lowest number in the Kunene Region.

The latest is the third valuation roll, which is meant to give commercial farmers and members of the public a chance to inspect the roll as provided for in the Land Valuation and Taxation Regulations of 2007.

The exercise will give farmers the opportunity to object or accept the valuation of their properties.

The minister also announced that since 2004, N$200 million has been collected through the taxation of commercial agricultural land.

However, since 2007, there have been marked increases in the price of commercial agricultural land, which translates to the increase of value of properties contained in the current provisional roll.

The current provisional roll is expected to yield N$80 million per annum for the next five years.

However, according to the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act, 1995, Act No. 6, Section 76, previously disadvantaged Namibians, churches and charitable organisations who own farms can apply to be exempted from the land tax.

In addition, !Naruseb revealed that there are considerations to extend the exemption to owners who are affected by natural phenomena such as severe droughts, natural veld fires, flooding, et cetera.

The land tax is deposited in the Land Acquisition and Development Fund, for the acquisition of farms for previously disadvantaged Namibians, and to develop and improve commercial agricultural land.

At the launch yesterday, !Naruseb urged Namibians to take control of the country's land reform initiative and overcome all the small challenges facing the process. "Sometimes emotions can cause a big fire, so let us adhere to the laws. There are so many voices that tell us to do things that are not in accordance with the law. Please make it easy for me," !Naruseb pleaded, without explaining what he meant by the statement.

"We adopted resolutions, probably not to the liking of many, but we need to cooperate with the law," he emphasised.

The land reform programme is generally viewed as very slow and has caused a great deal of frustration, with some people even threatening land grabbing.

In addition, critics of the programme are of the opinion that only the politically powerful and well connected benefit from the programme at the expense of the poor.

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