New land law on the cards

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THE National Assembly yesterday made amendments to the land-related legislation, a move on which legislators bank hopes for streamlining the sector, in the wake of loopholes that crooks had been manipulating to cheat the government.

They endorsed the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) No. 5 bill of 2017, Attorney General George Masaju had tabled earlier, aimed at, among other objectives, to make amendments in the land law of 1999.

The Bill also seeks to make amendments to the Public Service Act, Cap 298, The Budget Act Cap 439 and The Bankaruptcy Act Cap. 25. The new law, which would become operational after securing presidential assent, will limit individuals and institutions to use its land as mortgage to secure loans for investing inBanka foreign country, under which investors and individuals had used Tanzanian land as collateral for other businesses. “Part 10 of the existing law allows usage of the land as mortgage, but it is silent on conditions after securing the loan. “

It is due to these shortfalls that some landlords and investors had not been using such monies to develop the specific land areas with others investing in foreign countries instead of Tanzania,” he told the National Assembly.

The AG said such legal weaknesses had resulted in several potential lands not to be developed and compromised TheNatural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act, 2017 and The Natural Wealth and Resources Contracts (Review and Renegotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act of 2017. If signed into the law, it will direct that any loan acquired from a local or foreign bank or financial Institution shall be invested within the United Republic of Tanzania territory.

The proposed law also directs such institutions to report to the Commissioner for Land on any loan issued that the money will be invested in Tanzania and not otherwise. “Should there be a loan acquired using a land plot that has been partially developed, the money acquired should fund completion of any incomplete work at the said part,” Mr Masaju noted.

However such requirements will not be applied to wananchi holding a certificate of customary right of occupancy. The AG also tabled amendments of The Public Service Law legalising 60 years as the retirement age for civil servants except specialist doctors and professors and 55 years for voluntary retirees. The new law proposes 60 years as the voluntary retirement age for exceptional professionals and 65 as mandatory retirement age.

While presenting the opinions of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, its chairman, Mr Mohamed Omary Mchengerwa, said amendments, especially in the land Act would improve accountability for creditors and debtors over Tanzanian land.

The committee however cautioned the government over possible effects for a legitimate Tanzanian national who might want to invest outside the country. It also objected to the government’s decision to introduce new retirement age for professors and specialist doctors.

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