Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament have expressed their dissatisfaction over the failure by management of Lands Commission to collect over GHS1.6 million as ground rent.
According to the 2017 report of the Auditor General, 483 lessees or assignees owed ground rent totaling Ghc1.6 million for the period December 1975 to December 2015.
The report said lessees at East Legon owed GHS 251,344 between 1975 to 2015.
Airport residential assignees also owe 380,851 for the years 1979 to 2015 while property owners at South Legon owed 441,491 for the years 1981 to 2015.
Other areas also include East Legon Ambassadorial area with an outstanding of 212, 608 within 1988 to 2015 and Osu 369,546 for between 1987 to 2015 totaling 1.6 million.
The report by the auditor further said their interactions with head of the Ground Rent Management Unit of the Commission indicated that the laxity in collection of the rent was due to the ignorance of the lessees/assignees of their obligation.
During PAC sitting on Tuesday, September 8, chairman of the committee, James Klutse Avedzi expressed shock at the report and questioned why prime areas such as East Legon and Osu owed the commission that huge amounts.
But in response, the Executive Secretary at the Lands Commission, Sulemana Dawuda Mahama said his office is facing a lot of difficulty in collecting the ground rent.
He said consultants are being engaged to aid in the collection of the rents.
“We tried decentralising the collection of the ground rent but it failed drastically. We are however engaging the services of consultants to help us collect the rents,” he told the PAC.
The Auditor General’s report also warned that if the situation is not rectified the continued revenue losses will adversely affect the commission’s financials to embark on its programmes.
The report also recommended to the Rent Management Unit to organize education for lessees about their obligations under the law to pay their ground rent and also device strategies to retrieve the outstanding debt of GHS 1.6 million cedis.
A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio who accompanied the officials however assured the committee that the digitization agenda by the government will eliminate such practices.