News

Message From The Managing Director
1st September 2007

The last few months have been busy for LEI and myself personally.I returned from a 6 week overseas trip on 9 September. I spent the first 2 weeks of this trip in the US, meeting with David Hosking, having discussions with potential partners in the US and catching up with key contacts in World Bank. Land Equity Americas Inc (LEA), or our new company in the US, is now gaining some traction. We have identified key partners and have in the past month prepared proposals for three US-funded projects, 2 for USAID funded projects as an associate to major US contractors and one for MCC in association with a major US company. I am working with David Hosking to update our business plan and to move LEA to the next level. There will be more news on this in our next newsletter.

After leaving the US, I spent a week in Sweden. Sida has recently published a paper on Land Tenure (available on http://www.sida.se/sida/jsp/sida.jsp?d=118&a=32805&language=en_US&searchWords=SIDA37805en) so my visit was timely. In Sweden I had meetings with key people in Sida and met with several potential partners.


I then spent about 10 days in Ramallah working with Rae Porter and our local associates and counterparts in preparing a draft National Land Policy Framework document and participating in two workshops with key stakeholders. This assignment went well and I was particularly pleased at the ownership now being taken by our counterparts in the Ministry of Planning.


The work in Palestine is on track for completion late in 2007. On the way back to Australia I spent about 10 days in Delhi working with Klaus Deininger and Ed Cook on a strategy for land projects in India.


The strategy for Macedonia is also progressing well. Suleiman Dabbas has agreed to join us and help establish a branch office in Skopje and then to run this office. Suleiman is busy preparing a bid for the World Bank project in Skopje that is due early next month. I am sure that everyone welcomes Suleiman to LEI.


Giulietta Cappellin returned from maternity leave in August qand is now working 2 days a week in Wollongong. Another recent starter in the office in Wollongong is Rebecca Palmer, who started earlier this month as the full-time Administration Officer. Giulietta Cappellin and Anne Lunnay have made sure that Rebecca settled in smoothly and again I am sure that everyone will welcome Rebecca to LEI.

I would like to thank Anne for helping hold things together. Rae Porter is acting as Team Leader in the Philippines so that Ian Lloyd can take a welldeserved break. I have had a few recent messages from Rae and I know that she now has a new appreciation of what is involved in running the project in the Philippines. David McDowell is also standing in as Team Leader in Laos so that Steve can also take a well deserved break. I would like to thank both Rae and David for taking on the increased role as acting Team Leaders.

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Philippines-Australia Land Administration and Management Project –Phase II
1st December 2007

The LAMP Phase 2 Project finished the year on a high note with the reaching of the year two target for issuance of land titles, and the continued increase in formal land transactions processed through the Leyte Province One Stop Shop (OSS).  In addition, the mass data capture of all land titles in the province Register of Deeds (1/4 million titles) is underway and complements the parallel data capture of all approved survey plans which was commenced earlier.

 It is planned that both data capture programs will be done by June 2008, allowing a further improvement in OSS services to the public and business as well as the identification of any inconsistent records between the two agencies.
The Department of Finance manages the property valuation component. The objective of creating a valuation base at true market levels was achieved at Naga City and is well advanced in Iloilo City which is the fourth largest city in the country. These are two of a planned four example sites for demonstrating the application of international standards in valuation. LEI provided advisers to assist in designing the methodologies, creating a database system for holding and disseminating sales information and training of assessor’s staff. Since existing schedules are well below market levels, LEI also provided technical assistance on ways to phase in the valuation increases for the purpose of annual property taxation. To ensure sustainability of technology transfer to assessor offices, the Secretary of Finance created a new Valuation Office at central level within the Bureau of Local Government Finance and LAMP has started a change management program.


Staff in all locations celebrated a successful year, ahead of the holiday season and are looking forward to the New Year and the upcoming project mid term review. The review will allow an opportunity to refine the project design to ensure that the best use is made of the resources towards attaining the project objectives. In 2008 it is envisaged that two more provinces will commence mass titling and creation of OSS’s, and the Bohol Province OSS will be made operational. In addition, two more valuation sites will receive technology transfer and commence compiling a valuation base at market levels. And further, the 10 Local Government Units under the Innovation Support Funds will receive training and technology to implement their own projects in land administration and management. Of great interest will be the processing by the Congress on the four Bills which would lead to major reform in the sector.
– Provided by Ian Lloyd

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Lao Land Title Office web 01

Property Rights & Land Titling Project, Lao PDR.
1st December 2007

In previous newsletters we have reported on the major expansion program the TA team is supporting here. It is only ten months before the end of TA inputs for Phase 2 and yet the project is increasing in size - we have just added five provinces, taking us to 14 provinces where systematic adjudication is supported. And of course the Department of Lands must also build capacity within five additional provincial land offices to support the flow of subsequent registrations that are expected ter the public education program. But that is not all … we are currently in the middle of the World Bank, AusAID and GTZ assessment of the project, where we expect the go-ahead to be given to the expansion into the remaining three provinces, commencing in a few months!

The project is about to celebrate the first anniversary of its transfer to NLMA. OK, so maybe celebrate is the wrong word,as it has been quite a transition to the new institutional arrangements, with winners and losers. The higher status within government that flows from now being part of the Prime Minister’s Office also brings increased exposure, accountability and expectations. The current plans could see the project expand beyond its traditional urban and peri-urban and surrounding agricultural land into more remote rural villages, with the expectation also that communal land titles will soon start to be issued.


The last few months have seen other massive changes, as policy developed under the previous administration has been substantially rewritten. Advisers on the project were comfortable with the 10-year old practice of recording mortgages, leases and other under-rights on the reverse side of the land title, but these are now to be recorded chronologically in a registration book. If you think that sounds like a partial relapse into a general registry of deeds, you may be right. One of the interesting features of life in Laos is the telephone hotline to the National Assembly, where members of the public can report grievances and generally complain about day-to-day life. In today’s newspaper, we have complaints about the wrong use of official power, the implementation of the law being ineffective because some officials feel they can violate the laws with impunity, court judgments being influenced by bribery, university students wearing inappropriate clothing, poor roads, compulsory motorcycle helmets and the risk tokids of video games. An interesting list of complaints in a controlled newspaper! Another interesting feature of life in Laos is the impact of the growth of geographic neighbours and the pressure this is placing on land. The demands for food, mining and agricultural products in China, Thailand and Vietnam are placing unprecedented pressure on the land resource in Laos. Massive concessions are being granted to foreign investors, sometimes without due process or consultation with affected land users. In recent times, land registered under the project has been expropriated and villagers resettled, raising new safeguard issues in our project. In a 1,600-hectare concession currently under discussion, land in the heart of Vientiane may be assigned to Chinese investors for the construction of housing for prospective Chinese residents. No complaints in the hotline article in today’s newspaper!


And without doubt, land – access, tenure security, expropriation, resettlement, use, management, impact on environment -is the hot topic in Laos at the moment!


We continue the comings and goings of our international advisers. Kate Dalrymple spent 2 months with us in July-September; Daniel Carter left us in September to spend time in LAMP although he will return for a month in January 08; Liz Mann joined us for a very intensive and productive nine weeks of field research and training; our new Organizational Development Adviser spent 6 weeks assessing the new institutional arrangements; our veteran adviser David McDowell will leave us in February 08 to join LAMP for 3 months. So what is next for the Lao project? We are coming to the business end of Phase 2, where the impact and achievements of our inputs will be assessed and decisions must be made about extensions and new phases. The current donor evaluation in December 2007 will give us some guidance and we anticipate a small extension of TA subject to many conditions –including an intensive period of inputs before the next mission in June 2008!! Provided by Steve McFadzean

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Pacific Land Program – Case Studies
1st September 2007

The White Paper on the Australian Government’s overseas aid program identified the need for a collaborative and demand driven Pacific land mobilisation program. The AusAID Pacific Land Program that is being developed has two objectives; (i) to survey and disseminate innovative land mobilisation practices in the Pacific and (ii) to resource innovations and improvements in land tenure arrangements.
To progress the first objective AusAID will be preparing a report that looks at innovative practices and problems in landtenure in the Pacific. To assist with the preparation of the report AusAID commissioned a series of case studies to be undertaken in the Pacific region.

Chris Grant, Chris Lunnay and Jim Fingleton were involved in the preparation of casestudies, which were then peer reviewed. Chris Grant prepared a case study on “Accessing Land for Public Purposes in Samoa”; Chris Lunnay prepared a case study on “Training and Educating Land Professionals in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Laos”, and Jim Fingleton was involved in the preparation of several case studies; “Recognition of Customary Land-owning Groups in Vanuatu using Land Trusts”, “The Systems of Land Dispute Settlement in Papua New Guinea” and “Land Registration among the Tolai People: waiting 50 years for Titles”. Provided by Chris Lunnay

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Papua New Guinea
1st September 2007

Chris Lunnay has been involved in supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea with the development of a Concept Design Document for their National Land Development Program (NLDP). Chris undertook an initial visit to Port Moresby in early July to assess the GoPNG requirements. There was a need to link the outputs from the concept design activities into the PNG annual budget cycle, which meant that all design activities needed to be completed by early September.  A concept design team was put together at very short notice and mobilisation of the team commenced on 5 August. The international team consisted of Chris Lunnay (Team Leader/Land Administration), Kevin Rainsford (IT Policy/Valuation), Norena Kavanagh (Institutional and HRD), Pamela Harris (Community Education and Customer Service) and the nationals were Oswald Tolopa (Legislation and Disputes) and Dr Lawrence Kalinoe (Customary Land).

A number of readers of this newsletter may be aware of the chequered history of land reform initiatives in PNG and may well think that this is just another futile attempt at addressing land issues. It certainly is another attempt, but this time there is significant momentum to implement land reform initiatives. A National Land Summit was held in Lae in August 2005 with the theme, Land, Economic Growth and Development with the main objective being to generate strategic options to access land for development. Following the Land Summit a National Land Development Taskforce (NLDT) was established to identify problems and issues relating to land administration, land dispute resolution procedures and how best to access land under customary ownership to enable development.

The NLDT and its three committees – Committee on Land Administration, Committee on Land Dispute Settlement and Committee on Customary Land Development commenced activities in January 2006. In July 2006 the findings and recommendations from the three committees were considered and endorsed by the NLDT. A series of consultations were then convened including to government Ministers, state institutions and donor agencies through to groups with common interests such as provincial governments and the general public. In November 2006 the taskforce presented its report, “National Land Development Taskforce Report” to the Government.


The NLDT Report made 54 recommendations on agreed actions that are required to address deficiencies in the management of land administration activities, develop customary land initiatives and improve the land dispute settlement procedures. These recommendations provide a clear direction for the progression of land administration initiatives in Papua New Guinea.


This Concept Design Document is the next step in the process towards a comprehensive reform of land administration activities in Papua New Guinea. It builds on the outcomes from the NLDT Report, ensures that the momentum that has been developed in moving toward a reform agenda is maintained and also provides a framework around which the reform processes can be developed. Provided by Chris Lunnay

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Philippines-Australia Land Administration and Management Project - Phase II
1st September 2007

From Public Relations To Social Mobilization: Tweaking LAMP II IEC To Fit Philippine Social Realities
Many long hours went into the production of the Technical Assistance Annual Plan for 2007-2008. The initial plan had to be revised to reflect the reduced level of TA funding from AusAID in the current financial year. The revised Plan was approved in August and recruitment of international and national TAs to assist the GOP with the agreed program activities is now in full swing. Organisational assessments were completed for the Land Management Bureau (LMB) and the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) and both organisations have agreed to participate in a Change Management Program.

The Land Registry Authority (LRA) has undertaken a parallel integrity development review and has undertaken to share the results so that it can benefit from capacity building initiatives that will enable these agencies to lead the land sector reform process. The Competency Based staff recruitment and training approach of LAMP will be strengthened with the recruitment of new advisers in the areas of GIS, surveying and mapping.


Productivity of titles improved in June 2007 in Leyte Province and has been maintained through the last quarter. The Leyte Project Implementation Office, through the PENRO, has declared its intention to reach the targeted output of titles for the calendar year. What an end of year celebration there will be if that goal is reached! The One-Stop-Shop (OSS) is bursting at the seams with mapping support to titling and land registration services as well as the development of the computerised information system. Work is underway to assess the feasibility of an extension of the current building on an adjacent site or construction of a new building in Tacloban City. Transactions at the Front Office of the OSS have been increasing in number and now average 50 per day. It is fitting that Responsive and Timely Services to Clients: A Service Delivery Standard in the OSS, has been formerly adopted and progressively implemented.


The new Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Jose Atienza, took up his new post in September. Secretary Atienza was previously Mayor of Manila for three terms and is an active, hands-on administrator. On September 14 the Secretary attended the official commencement of LAMP phase 2 in the province of Bohol. The guests at the OSS ground breaking ceremony were welcomed by the Mayor of Tagbilaran City, Dan Neri Lim and addressed by DENR Secretary, Jose Atienza, Department of Justice State Counsel Ruben Fondevilla, Governor of Bohol Erico Aumentado, World Bank Acting Country Director Jehan Arulpragasam and AusAID Counselor Sam Zappia.


The ceremony involved a ground breaking to officially mark the site for the construction of the OSS for the province of Bohol. The site selected is at the heart of provincial government institutions and within easy access of Tagbilaran for the general public. More than ceremonial shoveling of dirt and tugging of curtain cords, this ceremony signifies a commitment towards a cohesive, transparent and service orientated land sector.


The OSS aims to improve the delivery of land administration services through an integrated approach, bringing together appropriate government units involved in land management under one roof, thus ensuring sustainable tenure security. These units include the Registrar of Deeds, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, and the provincial and municipal local governments. The OSS establishes standard and accessible land records systems that link spatial with textual data on titles and land information. It likewise reviews and rationalizes sporadic titling and registration processes in accordance with world class service standards for the delivery of land administration services.


As the Secretary of DENR, Sec. Jose Atienza Jr stated in his opening address: the common aspiration of Filipinos to have land of their own is being frustrated by the slow and tedious process of land registration and administration. And it is these “tedious” processes of land registration and administration that are hampering the countries ability to reduce poverty and build a sustainable platform for economic growth.  Provided by Rae Porter Acting Team Leader and Clare Brazenor Systematic Adjudication Adviser

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Property Rights and Land Titling Project, Lao PDR
1st September 2007

The Project is going through a very busy period (has it ever been otherwise?), with training for new staff in the existing 9 Project provinces (following major staff losses since the move of the Department of Lands from the Ministry of Finance to the National Land Management Authority in 2006) nearing completion, and training for new systematic adjudication teams starting in Bokeo, Oudomsay and Luang Namtha this week.  Following training, systematic adjudication will commence in these provinces in the new year. The next two provinces (Attapeu and Xekong) will receive training later this year, and the final three provinces will come on board in February 2008.

There are several other important events taking place, particularly the organisational review of the NLMA and amendments to legislation impacting on Project activities. There are also key reviews of the Project by AusAid and the World Bank starting in October to prepare for.


Current issues confronting the Project include the decision by NLMA to cease registration of subsequent transactions other than changes of ownership on the land title, and the old chestnut of titling along road corridors promises to ensure a lively supervision mission in December.


On the adviser front, we are happy to welcome Martin Connolly to the team. Martin is the new organisational development adviser, and is facing the challenges of his assignment with the requisite initiative and good humour (not sure how well he’s handling Ireland’s loss to France in the Rugby World Cup though). Daniel Carter left us recently to join the team on LAMP II (and probably a few basketball teams as well, knowing the passion for the game in the Philippines), and his enthusiasm and inputs into many areas of the Project, including work plans, procurement and training, have been greatly appreciated. Daniel also left his mark in the sporting arena in Vientiane- see the article below. Kate Dalrymple is finishing her assignment as Community Education Adviser this week, and we will miss her drive and professionalism. Steve McFadzean is currently taking a well earned break - the comprehensive documentation that he left behind has made this job much easier than would otherwise have been the case- thanks Steve!  Provided by David McDowell

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PROPERTY VALUATION STAFF: A LEAP FORWARD
1st September 2007

In a country where there are 29 agencies) involved in property valuation (and as many valuation systems used), the establishment of the Property Valuation Staff (PVS) is a landmark initiative towards a single and unified valuation system and authority. The PVS, which is currently housed at the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), was established on 30 August 2007 by Secretary Margarito Teves of the Department of Finance (DOF) through Department Order 34-07.

The Department Order is significant on several counts. Firstly, while legislation is in process towards reforms in property valuation and in establishing a National Valuation Authority (NVA), the process may take time to be passed into law. The intent of the Department Order is to continue the operation of the PVS, whether the proposed law is approved or not, and even if subsequent projects under the Land Administration and Management (LAM) program of the government are not pursued. It has therefore established a solid institutional foundation for property valuation reforms. Of course, the approval of the valuation reform law and the establishment of the National Valuation Authority (NVA) are much desired. Secondly, the assignment of officers and staff to the PVS provides a stable ground for capacity building on property valuation under the LAMP 2. Thirdly, the establishment of the PVS and hopefully its subsequent transformation into the NVA open a range of career opportunities for future valuers. Finally, it has fulfilled Government commitment to both AUSAID and the World Bank under LAMP 2. The DOF family takes great pride in this initiative, as in its institutional eyes, it is a commitment towards serving the people better through good governance.


The establishment of the PVS did not happen overnight. Painstaking studies, research and consultations with stakeholders date back to LAMP 1 in the early 2000’s. It also helped that BLGF shared its meager resources, especially in providing guidance and staff to initially support the PVS. In establishing the PVS, which is an institutional land mark in the Philippine property valuation sector. LAMP2 has adopted the approach of “small steps leading to a big leap forward”. To this, the DOF family is immensely grateful for the assistance and ‘light’ from ‘the LAMP’.  Provided by Johnson Mercader National Technical Adviser for Valuation Project Management

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Bureau of Local Governance and Finance, Philippines (BLGF) Study Tour
1st March 2007

LEI have been supporting the University of Canberra to provide training and work experience in Australia to a group of valuers from the Bureau of Local Governance and Finance, Philippines.

The participants were in good hands with LEI’s Senior Associate, Ross Stevenson, providing training and mentoring to the group on land valuation theory and practice.

Ross’s presentations covered topics such as the importance of valuation inelation to creating the land market, providing an asset base for government and as a tax base for government. He also covered issues such as; determining fair value, equity and risk management.
LEI will be providing additional support to the BLGF participants upon their return to the Philippines by assisting participants with applying the lessons they have learnt. Provided by Kylie Anthony

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Message From The Managing Director
1st March 2007

It has been a busy start to the year and the days have passed quickly, largely due to the fact that I have had several trips on assignments overseas - despite a New Years resolution to spend more time in Australia.

The LAMP II project in the Philippines has been through a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I participated in a Policy Forum on the institutional forum in late January. This forum was largely targeted at getting wide-spread support for the passage of the LARA bill through the Senate before it adjourned for the mid-term election in May. The forum went very well and there was a clear consensus that the LARA was needed.

However, the bill did not get through the Senate before it adjourned and we now need to develop a strategy to get the reform on the agenda for the next Congress. AusAID have also asked us to cut back on expenditure in the first half of 2007 due to over-programming issues. Ian was able to do this, but I know that the changes will have an impact on the forward planning of many of our consultants. I am sorry about this. Ian and the team are busy working on the Annual Plan for 2007/08 and it will be a challenge to program the inputs that have been pushed back from 2006/07.

Chris Lunnay participated last month in an Implementation Support Mission in Laos. The project in Laos is not without its challenges, but it came through the review without any major issues. I spent much of February in Ramallah working on the start of the Policy Formulation assignment for the Palestinian National Authority. This project is a challenging assignment in a challenging environment and we have some new consultants working with us on the assignment. Much of the current activity is in gathering data and preparing reports. There will be a busy program of workshops over the coming months.

I am writing this in Tanzania, where I am finishing an assignment for the Government to support the Implementation Support Mission of the project on mainland Tanzania and to undertake a scoping study for a possible project in Zanzibar. I am returning to Wollongong on Tuesday afternoon and will be preparing for the next LEI board meeting on Thursday. A key matter on the agenda will be the draft business plan for expansion in the Americas. We are also looking at a strategy for Europe. In the past few months we have had a couple of new starters.

Daniel Carter joined us as an employee in February and we then promptly sent him off to an assignment in Laos. Ciara Cowley also joined us in February as a Project Administrator, helping support Jacqui and Kylie. I am sure all of you will help both settle-in quickly.

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