Department invests in upgraded IT system

The Lands Department remains focused on improving its system to speed up services and give more land title deeds to the poor, according to Sub Lt Khantachai Vichakkhana, its deputy director-general.

He said the department was working on improving its IT system in order to develop a national land information centre and maximise its extensive database.

''If it [the IT system] can be linked with the database system of the Department of Provincial Administration, we can collect tax [more efficiently],'' he said, adding that the department had already submitted a proposal to the cabinet, and the project was expected to begin by March.

He said the only constraint on setting up an improved IT system was the budget, as the cost would be very high. The department, however, has reduced the proposed budget from 10 billion to eight billion baht.

To date, the department has spent more than 300 million baht to improve 50 land offices in 24 provinces. The full overhaul was expected to take five years, said Sub Lt Khantachai.

In a 2007 World Bank survey on the efficiency of asset registration, the Thai Lands Department was ranked sixth. It ranked fourth for speed of registration out of 175 countries, following Norway, New Zealand and Sweden.

From October 2006 to January 2007, the department generated 16.58 billion baht from 1.76 million accounts. Of the income, 6.45 billion baht was from transfer fees, 4.73 billion from income tax and 4.66 billion from special business tax.

In the fiscal year that ended in September 2006, the department generated 50.33 billion baht from 5.51 million accounts, compared to 49.25 billion from 5.67 million accounts in fiscal 2005.

''We expect a decrease in property transactions due to the economic situation. Our revenue this year will also decrease,'' he said.

From January to December 2006, the department said, growth in the number of land allocation permits granted was flat at 511 nationwide. In Bangkok, 151 permits were granted for 18,447 plots.

Most of this figure comprised townhouses at 7,515 plots, followed by single houses at 7,267 plots.

The department also granted land title deeds to 559,090 low-income citizens to live on and use as pledges for investment. A total of 18,951 plots were allocated to low-income people, exceeding the target of 13,700. In the 2007 fiscal year, the target is 13,600 plots.
Sub Lt Khantachai said the department planned to improve the efficiency of its public services by reducing the number of working processes from 33 to 27. An automatic queuing machine is now in use at 253 land offices, out of more than 1,000 nationwide.

Bangkok Post 15.02.2007