By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Delta State Government has also slashed the cost of procuring the Certificates of Occupancy (C-of-O) from N425,000 to N200,000 per plot of land.
The new scheme enables acquisition of the certificate to be completed in 90 days while those in possession of the old ones were required to pay the sum of N50,000 per lot of land.
Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, at the flag-off of “Fast-track 90” project in Asaba on Thursday, said that the initiative was designed to eliminate the bureaucratic bottlenecks that had long militated against the acquisition of C-of-O in the state.
He unveiled the electronically generated C-of-O project during the ceremony with an appeal to stakeholders to cooperate with the government to ensure the success of the initiative.
Okowa noted that statistics showed that though there were the over 400,000 land/property owners in the state, the government had issued out only about 19,000 certificates of occupancy.
Nonetheless, the governor read the riot act to dubious government officials who shirked their responsibility regarding the issuance of C-of-Os in the state, saying such officials would be duly sacked.
He also warned against inflation of the cost of approving building plans by the planning department of the Ministry of Lands and Surveys.
Okowa warned, “Don’t do things that are not right; don’t slow down the process of procuring certificates as we will clamp down on anyone found to be inefficient.”
He noted that the Fast-track 90 project was an innovative policy to ease the process of doing business in the state, saying that the high cost and delay associated with acquiring legal deeds on landed properties constitutes one of the greatest discouragements to investors.
According to Okowa, “One of the biggest disincentives to investors anywhere in the world is the high cost and delays associated with acquiring the legal titles to landed property in Delta State, the process of obtaining Certificate of Occupancy C-of-O) has over the years become very long, arduous, unwieldy, and opaque, often resulting in unofficial payments far in excess of the approved amount., he said.
“‘Fast-Track 90’, an innovative policy of this administration designed to enhance ease of business in the state, has been initiated to overcome the bottlenecks that have become a recurring decimal in obtaining C of Os. It will take a maximum of ninety (90) days for land owners to obtain their C of Os from the Ministry of Lands and Surveys and the new system is fast, transparent and in line with global best practices.”
He stressed that “the new C-of-O was electronically generated, secure and fraud-proof and its implementation starting in June, 2016″, adding that the government was not embarking on this project because it was desperate for cash.”
“As much as the revenue generated will bolster the state’s finance, it is more about us doing the right thing and doing it right”, he further said. “This administration is irrevocably committed to putting the necessary structures, institutions, processes and systems in place that will engender good governance, all-inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.”
Okowa also sued for the cooperation of land owners, noting that the new scheme “serves as protection against government acquisition, validates your ownership of the property and eliminates needless disputes and contentions.”