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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Land office: A safe haven for the corrupts

TRANSPARENCY International Bangladesh has revealed that to register land deeds, people have to pay up to Tk 5 lakh in bribe. Transactions of up to Tk 20 lakh beyond legal means had also been made for recruitment, promotions, and transfers of their staffers and officials, and for obtaining licences for deed writers. Being recruited by a bribe, officials have to earn the money that triggers the cycle of corruption that eventually establishes institutionalisation of corruption. High corruption in sub-registrar's office is not unknown to service seekers and masses, TIB only methodologically presented the scenario.
A sub-registrar who indulges in corruption gets 10 to 50 percent of the bribe money and a portion of the rest of the money is paid to unscrupulous officials at district offices and Directorate of Registration. TIB investigated in 41 offices of sub-registrars and 16 district offices under eight divisions. The report said people were offered "packages" to have their deeds registered. Sometimes it was a fixed amount and sometimes a percentage of the value of the land. The amount varied depending on the price, type, and location of the land as well as the type of deed and availability of other documents required getting it registered. It observed that the sector has mechanisms for accountability and internal control, but those are not functioning properly. The corruption and irregularities there are based on partnership and agreement extended from top to bottom.
In fiscal 2017-18, 36.72 lakh deeds were registered under the Directorate of Registration and the government earned about Tk 12,433 crore in revenue in the process. The report said people had to pay between Tk 1,000 and 5 lakh for deed registration and Tk 1,000 and Tk 7,000 for the copy of a deed. A bribe of up to Tk 3 lakh is required to get listed as an apprentice deed copy-maker, get a licence for a deed writer, and for inclusion in the Deed Writers' Association. Up to Tk 8 lakh in bribe is required for promotion to mohorar from an apprentice deed copy-maker, up to Tk 10 lakh for promotion to an office assistant, and up to Tk 20 lakh for transfer of a sub-registrar.
If corruption could be curbed and transparency and accountability are established, the sector would yield more revenue for the government.