Commissioner Attributes Judgement Debt To Delayed Payment Of Compensation

 

Justice Yaw Apau

The Sole Commissioner on Judgement Debts, Mr. Yaw Apau, has maintained that continuous acquisition of land by the state without paying compensation to landowners within the stipulated time, was a contributing factor to the payment of huge judgement debts in the country.

He said delay in the payment of compensation, sometimes compelled the traditional rulers and other landowners to resort to legal action against the state, which culminated in judgement debts.

Mr. Justice Yaw Apau made the observation at the Judgement Debts Commission’s sitting yesterday regarding the payment of 14 billion old Ghana cedis (now GH¢1.4 million) to Togbe Sakpalika III and two others, for the acquisition of their lands in the Accra plains for Agriculture Development Company.

The delay in paying land compensation to the claimants by the state for compulsorily acquiring the lands under an Executive Instrument (E.I) 15 of 1977, accounted for the payment of the huge sum of money as judgement debt.

The Quality Grain Project is on a portion of the acquired lands.

“Why should the State continue to acquire lands when there are no funds to pay the landowners early enough, but wait for them to go to court to obtain judgement before they are paid?,” Justice Apau wondered.

“The undue delay in effecting compensation payment finally results in judgement debts leading to a drain on state coffers,” he said.

Mr. Kwadwo Awuah Peasah, Director in-charge of External Resource Mobilisation (Bilateral) at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), said that there was nothing on file with regard to reasons for the claims.

The Chief Valuer at the Land Valuation Division (LVD) of the Lands Commission, Mr. Kwesi Bentsi-Enchil, who gave the background to the acquisition and the purpose behind it, said the Commission (Lands Commission) was neither aware of the case when it was taken to court, nor the payment of the judgement debt to the beneficiaries.

He said additional 13 persons had not been paid any land compensation.

The Chief State Attorney at the Attorney General’s Department, Madam Stella Otema Badu, said the Government of Ghana compulsorily acquired some lands for Agriculture Development Company described as “Accra Plains Site”.

She said that compensation on some parts of the lands valued and described as “conflict free areas,” was to have been paid in 2002 but was not done hence the institution of legal action against the state.

She said the AG’s Department could not put up a strong defence because the state faulted by not paying the land compensation on time.

“My Lord, judgement was delivered on admission,” Madam Badu said.

Sitting continues today. By Castro Zangina-Tong

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