LAND REGISTRY AND FOREST REGISTRY: BUREAUCRATIC INEFFICIENCIES PROVE THE INADEQUACY OF POLITICAL MANAGEMENT
Land registry and forest registry are two big national projects, absolutely necessary for the modernisation of our country, so that there is certainty about land ownership status. Completion of these surveys will lead to security of ownership and will create the necessary conditions for the recovery οf the construction industry, which in turn will lead to tourist development and to more extensive crops. It is a positive element that the completion of these surveys was imposed by the EU through various memoranda (and paid by the EU) in order to spur growth in our country. For twenty years now, we have been receiving fat subsidies for the completion of these two projects, but we are still unable to finish them. This demonstrates the political inadequacy of the Greek governments, which in past years have been managing these overly generous subsidies. The governments in office failed not only because of incompetence, but also because they opted for implementation plans on the basis of personal interest. The ordinary citizens who were expecting that the completion of these processes would mean stability of their ownership status, now find themselves entangled in a long-term series of amendments to state decisions, renegotiations and adaptations of public procurement contracts with contractors and subcontractors, bottlenecks in court battles, costly fees, and even worse, they have no idea when these vague, open-ended procedures will come to an end and registration for the whole land will be achieved.
Recently published developments make the whole land and forestry registry situation even more uncertain. The Supreme Court has just ruled in favour of a citizen/land owner who claimed that essential data was not considered during the compilation of forest surveys in his perfecture. This has resulted in the annulment of all forest surveys for the whole perfecture, and it now creates a precedent for many more such claims on the part of land owners. The fact that during the last ten months since the implementation of the registration of agricultural land in the real estate cadastre only 20-25% of the land of Mani has been registered, leads us to the conclusion that even after the end of the latest extension of the registration deadline, not even half the land will have been registered. It is obvious that anything that has to do with the land and forest registration was conducted poorly and with the utmost sloppiness. Once more, the inefficiency of public administration negatively affects the average citizen. This has already been happening for some time as far as agricultural land and forest registration is concerned, but it will become even worse in the future, during the long remaining years until the completion of these two projects, which will lead to the modernisation of our country. Since the EU subsidies provided for this purpose have already been spent by various state governments, the high cost of the necessary registration procedures will be covered by the national budget, which means that the expenses will be rolled over to the average citizen through general and specific taxation. Once more, the public administration incompetence will become an additional financial burden for the Greek tax payers.
The agricultural land and forest registration programs affect a large part of the population, larger than the number of residents in each municipality. These two projects are of major importance to society, and their handling, as far as both general guidelines and specific details are concerned, also fall within the jurisdiction of local and regional authorities. Municipal and regional politicians have easier access than the average citizen to central administration authorities and as a result, they could present to higher authorities and pursue issues which are of crucial interest (such as land registry) to their citizens. Municipal authorities also participate in regional authority associations (Περιφερειακές Ενώσεις Δήμων) and central authority associations (Κεντρική Ένωση Δήμων), and they have open communication channels with the ministers of the government in office. Unfortunately, we have never seen in the press any such proposals presented to higher authorities. If such coordinated proposals were to happen now, the land registry procedures could be simpified and the whole implementation process could be accelerated; administration procedures would be streamlined and citizens would benefit financially. Regrettably, such interventions did not happen, and as a result, we now do not have any specific proposals that could be used in the new national draft law regarding land registry that will soon be passed by the Parliament.
It should be understood by all that the word “development” is not an abstract one, but requires a multi-effect approach and is based on complex requirements, one of the most important being the mobilisation of the citizens and their representatives.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD