News and Views

Rwanda: Public complains of land lease fees

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By Maria Kaitesi

The new land lease tax levied on land owners is yet to gain favour with the public with many still condemning it yet others are uncertain as to why they have to pay it.

The new tax under the new tenure system enacted in 2005 was implemented late last year.

The tax to be remitted annually ranges from Rwf 30 and Rwf 80 per square metre for residential houses.

A businessman and resident of Kimironko, who owns a piece of land in Gahanga, Kicukiro District, Ruzindana, who declined to mention his other name, says that the land lease is unfair given the present high cost of living.

“The land lease is high and I would request that government to either reduce it or completely scrap it. Sometimes we feel they want us to fail to pay that annual lease so that they can give out our land to investors,” a visibly angry Ruzindana retorted.

Another Kigali resident, Ndayisenga, said the extension of the deadline to January 31, for people to register their land and pay the lease was unhelpful.

“January is a bad month; this is a time when we send our children back to school, and a lot was spent during the festive season. The deadline should have been extended to late February or March. That way, it will be fair,” Ndayisenge said.

Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, recently directed concerned authorities to extend the deadline from December 31 to January 31 to give people ample time to register their land.

However, the Premier had earlier also directed district advisory committees to re-examine the payment process within a period of one month and study all complaints to ensure that there are no disparities in taxes levied on land vis-à-vis the landowners’ incomes.

The Director General in charge of land and mapping at the National Land Centre, Didier Sagasha, yesterday said that the policy was not new but was rather established by a Ministerial Order in 2003.

He said that everyone was registering land and that in rural areas where land is used for agricultural purposes and is usually below two hectares, no lease fee would be charged.

Sagasha said that a lot of sensitisation and public awareness campaigns are ongoing to educate and inform people about the land lease fee among other land issues.

“We shall even hold a meeting with the Executive Secretaries of various cells tomorrow (today) to inform them about the land lease fee collection among other land related issues,” he noted.

Bosco Horaho, a resident of Kabeza, advised that the fee structure be revised with people owning business facilities charged more than those using land for residential purposes.

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