Further to the creation of Six new regions and in line with Regulation 2 (1) of the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands (OASL) Regulations 2019, LI 2377, Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, responsible for Lands and Forestry, has on Thursday, 13th October, 2022, inaugurated a well-furnished and digitalised Regional office for the OASL at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North Region.
He explained that according to the said regulations which provides that “the Minister shall, in consultation with the Administrator, establish where necessary regional and district offices in consultation with the District Chief Executives concerned”, it has become necessary to take steps and establish a Regional office of the OASL in the Western North Region.
In complement to the legal basis for the office, The Deputy Minister outlined the significance of the OASL to the people in the Western North Region saying ” the importance of the services of the Office to the people cannot be over emphasized. Its mandate is to, among other things; Establish Stool Lands Account for Stools, Traditional Authorities and District Assemblies into which shall be paid all stool lands revenue whether in income or capital, Collection of stool lands revenue, Disbursement of stool lands revenue and account to beneficiaries, Consultation with relevant public agencies, stools, traditional authorities, and stools and the Establishment of customary land secretariats”.
He applauded the OASL for the enormous efforts since inception, in optimising the mobilisation of customary land revenue to alleviate poverty in stool land-owning communities, ensuring accountability and good governance in stool land revenue collection, usage and disbursement and providing an adequate and capable workforce to support the Office’s operations.
Hon. Benito asserted that recent world events have amplified the need for the government to look within the country to mobilise all available revenue to achieve the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda, notifying that for over 25 years, the OASL has been reliable in this regard. “this is evident in how the revenue raised over the years has been used by Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies in development projects such as the construction of schools, CHPS compounds, markets, and community centres, among other things” He added.
He reiterated the need for stronger collaborations between traditional leaders and the OASL for revenue mobilisation as he believes collaboration helps bring the needed development in the various communities of the country.
He also encouraged the Traditional leaders to liaise with the OASL for the establishment of Customary Land Secretariats (CLSs) as stipulated in the Lands Act, 2020, Act 1036 which he said will help streamline land administration at the local level as well as ensure development.
The Deputy Lands Minister urged the staff of this new office to work tirelessly to ensure that maximum revenue is collected for the benefit of the stools, and people of the Western North Region, while suggesting to the Office that leveraging available technologies to improve operational efficiency and maintaining maximum transparency and accountability to the Stools and Government will help mitigate some of the challenges the Office is facing.
Hon. Owusu-Bio in his Inaugural address made an appeal to all gathered to work together with the Goverment and the Ministry to bring down the menace of “galamsey” which he noted is currently affecting revenue mobilisation on land throughout the country.
He hoped that that the current digitalisation of the operations of the OASL, will help the Office to do more with regards to their mandate and achievements and pledged the Ministry’s commitment, to support to the OASL in addressing its challenges and improving its operations.
The Chairman at the event and the Paramount Chief of Sefwi Wiawso, Katakyie Kwasi Bumagama II in his submission expressed his joy and gratitude to the President and the Ministry for such honour done him with the inauguration of yet another office in his region.
The Omanhene appealed to government and the Ministry to restore that the authority to watch over Forest and other resources on lands in the custody of the Traditional rulers, adding that that without that authority they are rendered handicapped and unable to wield the power they should to bring indigenes engaging in illegalities to order..
“You have made us handicapped to the issues of Lands and other resources. Please let the President know that he should give us back our power to be the Overlords that we are and these issues will die off if not, we can do the best we can but nothing can come out of it because they no longer respect the stools, what they fear is the police and that is not the best.
Due to the wanton distruction of Lands and waterbodies in the Region, Nana Bumagama sounded a warning that if mining companies visit the region to engage in Community Mining Scheme without his permission, even with licence, he will not allow them operate on his land.
He appealed to the Administrator and hoped that the digitalisation drive will help with measures to mitigate delays in revenue collection and further disbursement to the Chiefs as he said the manual operations make officers hold on to the monies unnecessarily.
In her address, the Administrator of Stool Lands, Surveyor Mrs. Maame Ama Edumadze-Acquah said upon the expansion of the regions from ten (10) to sixteen (16), her Office decided to also expand their areas of operations to create more offices in line with the expansion drive.
She noted that the Western North Regional Office comes after the recent inauguration of the Ahafo Regional office making it the 9th out of the 16 Regional Offices scheduled to be Commissioned in the coming months to bring their services to the doorstep of the citizenry and also to help deepenoperations in the region as compared to the larger Western Region.
Madam Maame Ama Edumadze-Acquah disclosed that the OASL currently in collaboration with GIZ is digitalizing its operations throughout the country which entails spatial identification of property owners /lessees to facilitate the payment of rent. “This is aimed at addressing the fundamental challenges in revenue mobilisation to help achieve the “Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda”.
She urged all to put shoulders to the wheel and make the Western North Region a formidable force to reckon with when it comes to stool lands administration in the country. “Together we will build a great country not just for ourselves but also for future generations” she concluded.
To follow due protocol and out of reverence for the Paramount Chief of Sefwi Wiawso, Katakyie Kwasi Bumagama II, the Deputy Minister together with the Administrator for Stool Lands, the Technical Director for Lands at the Ministry and other officers from the Ministry and OASL paid a courtesy call on the Sefwi Wiawso Paramount Chief at His Palace, where the inauguration ceremony took place.