In its recently released East Asia and the Pacific Update, the World Bank said about 11 million, out of the total of 24 million parcels of land in the country, are untitled.
As a result, the World Bank said millions of parcels of lands that remain untitled prevent and/or discourage investments in property development and undermine the government’s ability to collect taxes.
“The high percentage of parcels [of land] lacking documentation is brought about by slow progress in the titling program and delays in the passage of a law authorizing streamlined titling of residential lands, and the absence of a complete cadastral map, which keeps track of the total lots during subdivision and consolidation,” the World Bank said.
Apart from untitled land parcels, the World Bank said the country’s land information is also not current due to high transfer costs.
High transfer costs, the bank said, discourage lot owners from registering transactions. This problem is compounded by incomplete cadastral surveys and outdated tax maps.
There are also problems, the World Bank added, on overlapping institutional mandates, complex regulations and weak coordination among multiple agencies.
Some of the agencies that have land jurisdictions are the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the many cities and municipalities nationwide, among others.
“Outdated and inaccurate land records have the effect of reducing overall investor confidence in the registry and in the country’s property rights system,” the World Bank said.
In order to address these concerns, the World Bank urged the national government to employ land-use planning and zoning, which will be of particular use in urban areas.
Urban areas are constantly challenged with pollution, congestion, the need to create even more housing, commerce and industrial spaces to support the influx of migrants and establishment of businesses in cities.
Apart from these, local governments are unable to maximize the real-property taxes that they collect. If maximized, real-property taxes can help boost local government revenues.
To address this, the World Bank urged the creation of a National Valuation Authority to improve the efficiency and equity of real- property taxation.
“This would help increase transparency, ensure that properties better reflect market prices, and depoliticize the valuation process. Actual collection of the property tax can remain with local government units,” the World Bank said.
by Cai Ordinario