Transactions at the Ministry of Lands will soon go digital if the Business Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, currently before Parliament, is enacted into law.
The bill seeks to amend various land-related laws to create a central repository system for all land records in the country through the automation of records and transactions at the ministry.
This will be achieved by developing a digitised system -- Land Information Management System (LIMS) -- to ease the way of doing business and guard against loss of documents.
The bill seeks to remove the requirement for certificate of land rates and rent clearance as a prerequisite for registration as well as provide for the electronic execution of documents through amendments to the Land Registration Act.
Lands and Physical Planning Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney, while appearing before the Lands Committee of the National Assembly on Tuesday, noted that the government requires the law to speed up service delivery as well as address inefficiencies.
“This bill is an execution of a government policy on E-government policy on the ease of doing business and property registration is one of them,” Ms Karoney told the committee members.
“The benefits of an electronic land registry include enhanced security, reduction of errors and increased operational efficiency. Provision of online services to the public in an integrated information framework will improve access to services by citizens,” she said.
The bill comes after the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) filed a petition in Parliament seeking to have Ms Karoney investigated over land administration malpractices in the ministry.
In the petition, LSK President Allen Gichuhi claims that attempts to have the CS address the “underneath chronic” problems at the lands registry have fallen on deaf ears and that it is now time for MPs to deal with her.
Land registries are central to land administration and are created and administered by the relevant Cabinet Secretary in line with the Land Registration Act.
LSK notes that there are some cases where wrong stamp duty values are embossed on instruments and missing records among others.
The bill is targeting the Law of Contract Act, Registration of Documents Act, Survey Act, Stamp Duty Act, Land Registration Act and the Kenya Information and Communications Act to automate services at the ministry.
For instance, the ministry wants the Law of Contract amended to provide for electronic signatures in the execution of contracts.
The Registration of Documents Act is targeted to provide for an electronic book or register to be maintained by the land registrar as well as provision for electronic lodging of documents.
Under the Survey Act, the ministry seeks to introduce electronic signatures, sealing of documents electronically, electronic submission of survey plans and records and electronic authentication of survey plans.
Amendments to the Stamp Duty Act and Kenya Information and Communications Act will allow electronic stamping of documents and electronic land transactions and registration respectively.
“Amendment to section 45 of the Land Registration Act will dispense with physical appearance for verification where documents have been executed electronically and also provide for alternative dispute resolution mechanism to the court process for indemnity claims under the Act,” Ms Karoney said.
If approved, it will be a departure from the manual land registration system across the country, which has had several drawbacks including the lack of a central repository for land records.
Data collected is stored in different formats due to the different regimes of land registration, which the CS said is not only confusing but also hinders data access and has led to manipulation of records.
The different land regimes also means lengthy time required thereby affecting turnaround for transactions with the sheer volume of paper records presenting a challenge in data management.