13 April 2018

Kenya: Idle Land to Be Taxed in New Ministry Bill

The Ministry of Lands has introduced a policy that will allow taxation of idle land.

But the policy will be implemented only after both the Senate and the National Assembly adopt it.

Land Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney on Thursday told senators during the Inaugural Retreat for the Senate Committee on Land, Environment and Natural Resources in Mombasa that the two houses have a role to play in ensuring that the changes take effect.

"In our Rural Settlement Planning at the ministry, we have the land taxation policy that seeks to provide a package of incentives to encourage productive and sustainable use of land and disincentives for keeping idle land," Ms Karoney said.


She said among the aims is to have all owners of idle land to be taxed to encourage sustainable use.

She added: "This is pegged on the National Land Use Policy (NLUP). I am appealing to the Senate, through the committee, to support the fully implementation of the NLUP and the National Spatial Planning Policy (NSP)."

LSK demands review of online land system

Ms Karoney said the ministry needs adequate funding to fully implement its programmes.

She said there are chunks of idle land that, were they well utilised for both agriculture and commercialisation, would make the country food secure and well developed.

"It is sad that we have all this idle land that can be used for agricultural and commercial purposes for our economic development. This is the land we are targeting. That land must be utilised for the growth of this nation," she said.


The CS called for a revisit of the land policy of 2009, saying it was adopted before the new Constitution.

She asked the Senate to encourage counties to allocate adequate funds to undertake their physical planning function.

"The Senate should fast-track enactment of the Physical Planning Bill No. 34 of 2017 to provide the framework to guide the physical planning envisaged," she said.

Senators took the minister to task over digitisation of all land transactions, which the ministry is currently implementing.

"How safe is the digital online land transaction that your ministry is undertaking.

"We know some of these online platforms also pose certain risks. We need to know how secure it is for us to give it a clean bill of operations," Senate committee vice chairman Victor Prengei said.


Voi Senator Jones Mwaruma asked the CS to elaborate on the issues that the Law Society of Kenya had raised on digitisation of land transactions.

"How will you assure Kenyans that their records will be safe on the internet platform?" he asked.

Ms Karoney said the system has undergone a series of security and safety checks and has a data backup stored in several servers.

"It has been tested and is now on the E-citizen platform," she said.


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