EFFECTS OF MERGER OF MINISTRY OF LANDS WITH MINISTRY OF HOUSING IN KENYA.
The current set up by the Uhuru Kenyatta Presidency whereby the Ministry of Lands has been joined together with Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is a very good move that will enable implementing policy such as envisioned in the Land Commission.
Land is the single most important resource of any country. Urban Development is mainly about planning the land use in the most effective ways. Housing is a basic human need that is directly affected by Urban planning and land use.
IDLE LAND TAXATION.
The land commission can now effectively implement policy such as idle land taxation. Situations whereby people Land Bank, as in buy land then hold it for several years as they wait for it to appreciate, can be reduced. Land banking should be discouraged through implementing idle land taxation.
This will ensure anyone who owns land has to fully utilize it either for housing, farming, industrial use or any other use as may be prescribed by the Government.
This will in turn create employment in the farms, increase the number of residences for sale/rent and increase the number of industries as land owners try to avoid paying for idle land taxation.
DEMAND AND SUPPLY OF LAND.
This will solve the issue of lack of housing and lack of employment.
As land owners rush to avoid idle land tax, others will rent out or sell their lands to Kenyans with the entrepreneurial skill to farm or create industries . This will create a situation of high land supply hence low land price. This will enable land price to be affordable to the majority of hardworking Kenyans.
30% LAND APPRECIATION.
Currently, land in Kenya appreciates at a whopping 30% annually. This appreciation might seem to be profitable to the individual land owner who is selling and gaining from the appreciation but to the Fiscal economy, this translates to a loss for the whole country since potential Kenyans with the entrepreneurial zeal to use the land to productive purposes such as farming or manufacturing will have been denied the chance to do so hence unemployment and less tax collection.
Once land banking is discouraged through idle land taxation, cost of land for housing will be reduced proportionately throughout the country. Kenyans will now be able to access housing at affordable costs as opposed to the current situation whereby land for housing takes out close to 40% of total housing construction costs in a middle class suburb.
We hope that the new Cabinet Secretary in charge of Lands and Housing will be able to boldly assist the Land Commission to implement such strategic policies so as to enable all Kenyans to benefit.
Francis Gichuhi Kamau, Architect.