Monday, April 22, 2024

No more free land as Gov’t introduces application fees, hikes services levies

Land seekers across the country will have to dig deeper into their pockets to acquire a piece of land for residency or business.

This follows an approval by cabinet in 2020 to allow ministries and state owned agencies to revise their service fees. The blessing for the move by cabinet is part of government’s desperate efforts to build as much as P43 billion that is needed to jumpstart the economy.

Plans to increase user fees for some government services gained traction in 2019, pressured by the widening budget deficits caused by large expenditures against dwindling revenues.

The situation has been made worse by the Covid 19 pandemic outbreak in early 2020, which has rattled resource dependent economies like Botswana, with the country’s diamond exports taking a massive knock, while another key contributor to government revenue, tourism, coming to a standstill due to travel restrictions.

Fast forward to May 2022, the ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services through some Land boards announced that it will implement revised fees, hiking the costs for some services and introducing charges for previously free services.

On Friday, Tlokweng Land board notified members of the public on its revised services fees which include a hefty P3000 for those who seek to transfer land rights either through donation or sale. The notice further states that an application fee of P50 will be mandatory for those seeking to be allocated residential plots while commercial and industrial applicants will have to part ways with atleast P1000. Other services that will be charged include lost tittle, sketch plan, survey and application for way – leaves and servitudes.

The revised fees come at a time when the number of Land seekers in across the country keeps growing. In July 2021 the Land Management ministry admitted that it is inundated with ever increasing demand for serviced land across the various land tenures. At the time the Lands ministry said its waiting list stood at 637,399 under which 15 percent (97,159) is for state land including SHHA applicants and 85 percent (540,240) for tribal land.

Despite the high demand and outcry by thousands Batswana across the country, land allocation seems to be slower than desired. For instance, during the financial year 2016/17, the government has been able to allocate only 344 residential plots in urban areas. This number includes 13 in Gaborone, 67 in Lobatse, 131 in Francistown, 31 in Selebi Phikwe, 2 in Kasane. The government has in the past said it will need as much as P155 billion to service land across the country.


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