GIS - November 18: New conditions will henceforth apply for the conversion of agricultural land of an extent not exceeding one hectare. The "Sugar Efficiency Act" has been amended to that effect.
Owners of agricultural land not exceeding one hectare will no longer need to apply for a Land Conversion Permit, provided they owned the land on 30 September 2005.
The requirements to perform a conversion
They will also be exempted from the payment of any morcellement fee, land transfer tax, capital gains tax and transcription fee. However, the change of use from agricultural to non-agricultural use will only take place if the land is within limits of permitted development and is not within an irrigation zone.
The above condition will ensure that the change of use does not conflict with the major de-rocking / irrigation projects being undertaken by the government. The cut-off date (30 September 2005) has been introduced to avoid undue land speculation.
In the case of sale of land, the land owners will be able, after being issued a letter of intent by the Morcellement Board, to enter into an agreement to sell any portion of that land and receive payment in that respect, subject to conditions from the Morcellement Board. This additional facility, which is already available to the corporate sector for VRS projects, will enable small holders to optimise returns from the sale of their land.
In order to assure a smooth implementation of the new provisions, the Government is setting up a coordinating committee to look into the administrative arrangements and establish clear procedures.
The Ministry of Agro Industry and Fisheries is presently working on the rationalisation of the land conversion permit applications so as to make the procedures more user-friendly. An Information Desk at the Ministry will provide information and advice to the public on the new legislation.
It is recalled that 22,400 small planters own land of an extent of less than one hectare.