Ways to improve land sector governance in Bangladesh
A day-long consultation on ‘Governance challenges and the way forward in land sector’ was held in TIB’s Dhaka Office on 29 February 2016. Anti-corruption fighters and civil society activists attending the consultation urged for more concentrated efforts to reduce governance challenges in land-related services in the country.
Despite being so important in daily lives and economic activities, land sector in Bangladesh has been replete with numerous anomalies and corruption. According to TIB’s National Household Survey on Corruption 2012, 59% households experienced corruption while receiving services and nationally estimated total amount of bribe given by Bangladeshi households was found to be Tk. 22610 million. Over the decades, the government has taken numerous policy measures to reform land administration and management to make land services accessible and people oriented. In this context, the government has identified land as one of its priority areas in the 7th Five Year Plan. Given the paramount importance of land sector, TIB decided to work on land sector and pursue advocacy campaign both at local and national level to bring necessary policy changes to fight against corruption and improve governance in land sector. Some 48 participants representing Presidents, Conveners of Land Committees and land related CSO partners from (Bagerhat, Barisal, Chandpur, Gazipur, Khagrachori, Chapainababgonj etc) attended the consultation.
During consultation it emerged that service recipients encounter inconvenience, corruption or harassment while seeking services. Major constrains included, among others, the lack of co-ordination among land authority and management, deficit of skill and experience of Assistant Commissioners (Land), additional duties of AC (Land) other than land management, lack of regular inspection in local land offices, absence of field level monitoring of reports, inadequate budget and skilled human resource, dearth of training, deficit of logistics and infrastructure and the manual record keeping system.
During question-answer session, participants urged for undertaking extensive research on exploitations of indigenous people’s land. Topics such as land development tax, mutation, registration, record management, distribution and management of Khas land also came up in the discussion. Women are more at risk of corruption in this sector as they do not have much access to information regarding this, they observed.
After group works, participants presented their insights and suggested concrete steps to ease the sufferings of the public. Their suggestions included the digitalization of land services, one-stop local level center, special awareness campaigns in local level, organizing public hearing and setting up of complain boxes, ensuring access to information according to Right to Information Act and involving local people in the taxation process.
TIB's Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Deputy Executive Director Professor Dr. Sumaiya Khair and four other Directors were present in the consultation.
The consolidated findings of this consultation, along with TIB’s land sector study findings will be turned into a policy brief later to undertake sustained advocacy with the government to bring positive reforms and changes in land sector governance.