Q&A: ICTs and land valuation services in Jamaica
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CTA. 2004. Q&A: ICTs and land valuation services in Jamaica. ICT Update Issue 17. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57664
Knowing the exact value of a piece of land is essential both for local governments, to enable them to levy appropriate taxes, and for farmers to calculate their annual budgets. Yet in order to establish the value of land, both parties often have to find t
What is the background of the NLA? The Jamaican government established the National Land Agency in 2001 as part of its ongoing public sector modernization programme, aimed at improving the services available to farmers and other landowners. The NLA effectively brings together the activities and services of four previously separate government departments: land titles, surveys and mapping, land valuation and estate management. The merger of these departments provided the authorities with an opportunity to consolidate their multiple databases and document management systems into a single, coherent system. This resulted in the implementation of an automated Land Registration and Parcel Data Management System (LRS/PDMS), which has transformed the previous largely manual national land titling procedures, and http://www.nla.gov.jm/eland01.html eLandjamaica, a web-based property search service. What land valuation services are available from eLandjamaica? One of eLandjamaica´s main advantages is that it gives online access to the NLA´s valuation roll, which serves as the official inventory of all properties in Jamaica and is used as the basis for land tax assessment. The valuation roll includes a physical description of each property, its address, the name or names of its owner or tenant, its net annual rental value and total market value in Jamaican dollars. The value of a piece of land depends on, among other things, its use (residential, agricultural, commercial, etc.) and the economic climate. Jamaican law requires that property is revalued ´as near as may be every five years´ in order to reflect current rental or sale price levels, and to adjust property tax levels accordingly. The most recent revaluation exercise was completed in 2002, and the resulting 680,000 valuation roll reports may be accessed through eLandjamaica. How can this information help farmers? Through eLandjamaica, farmers can now inspect the valuation roll and assess whether they are entitled to tax relief. In an effort to support the country´s farming sector, the government offers ´agricultural derating´ grants to landowners who use a substantial proportion of their land for agricultural production. These grants constitute a 50% property tax exemption. For farmers who live in remote areas of the island, having online access to such information can save much valuable time. They no longer need to visit the NLA head offices in Kingston but can connect to the Internet from their own homes or a local NLA office. How is eLandjamaica benefiting the tax authorities? The government relies heavily on property tax revenues to fund important services such as education and health care, and is therefore working to improve the efficiency and transparency of the tax system. In particular, it is hoped that by making official, undisputed records of land values more widely available this will discourage land speculation and fraud. eLandjamaica offers a single point of entry, enabling NLA officers can quickly share land valuation and other land-related data with other government agencies and private-sector organizations. As a result, they can create a more consistent picture of the relations between land use in a particular area and its tax burden, and so may more easily adjust property tax policies to support the local economy. The launch of eLandjamaica has transformed the work of many local authorities. The staff no longer spend their time helping people search through valuation rolls, or creating and maintaining paper archives. Through eLandjamaica the public can now access directly a wealth of information online. Website user statistics show that the numbers of requests for certificates of title and other land-related documentation have risen steadily. This is also partly thanks to NLA´s successful efforts to reduce transaction times. The NLA´s improvements in service delivery are making a significant contribution to the government´s overall goal of strengthening the island´s real estate and land markets. mailto:email@example.com Adrienne Mullings serves as NLA PR officer. For additional information on eLandjamaica and other NLA services, visit http://www.nla.gov.jm www.nla.gov.jm.