Sri Lanka to set up State Land Bank

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The Government has decided to set up a national State land (crown land) bank by gathering information on all government
-owned lands to accelerate private sector-led development projects in the country, secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and lands, Chulananda Perera, told finance today.

A Cabinet subcommittee will also be formed to take appropriate action regarding the utilisation of over 50 acres of State land. Measures will be taken as a consequence to develop a transparent and effective framework to transfer relevant lots of land to private investors, he said.

In addition, as per Constitutional provisions, efforts would also be taken to establish a ‘Land Use Management Commission’ to implement policies addressing the efficient use of land. Since Provincial Councils are now dormant, it is also planned to make the appropriate arrangements through a representative nominated by the Provincial Governor with the consent of the Attorney Generals Department.

Secretary Perera said this type of Land Bank is being developed in Sri Lanka for the first time. Under it, all information on government and related agencies owned lands will be updated on a regular basis, and they will be used as effectively and efficiently in a transparent manner as possible.

‘It will be a comprehensive, transparent unique state land resource management system,’ Perera said.

Following Independence from British rule, the State has become the largest landowner, resulting in an expropriation disaster.

The Government claims that even though it has substantial property holdings, the planned Land Bank will make up for the lack of a centralised State Land Bank with accurate information .As soon as the new Land Bank is formed, it will be possible to obtain real – time information on all lands owned by the Government. This makes it simpler for private investors to acquire government land for investment purposes. Apart from that, accurate information regarding how State land has been used for agricultural, industrial, and service sectors of the country is available.

It is also stated that information for this is being gathered in three phases by the Survey Department. The information is being gathered through the Survey Department, the Land Commissioner General’s Department and the Land Reform Commission.

It is estimated that around two million units of State land information have already been digitised with another three million to follow. According to the secretary, the Government has sought funding for essential software and other relevant services.

The Government also intends to implement a programme to give Title Deeds it owns through the Land Reform Commission.

By Ishara Gamage