Draft law caps ownership at 8 hectares of land for a Bangladeshi

In a major land reform move, the government has finalised the codification of a 1984 ordinance which put a cap on how many areas of arable land an individual can own, limiting it only to roughly 8 hectares.

The ceiling was highlighted in the draft Land Reform Act, 2022, which received the nod from the cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office on Thursday.

The proposed law also exempted arable landowners from paying land development taxes up to 3.35 hectares (approximately), but if anyone owns over that limit, taxes will be levied for the total areas of land.

While briefing reporters about the proposed Act, Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam said in the case of multiple owners of a piece of land, a hearing by authorities will adjudicate the amount of taxes,

Dodgers will face a steep penalty of 6.25 percent per annum, which will be imposed on top of the actual amount of taxes, for missing payment of land development taxes for three consecutive years.

The top civil servant also said personal or family-owned graveyards are kept under the purview of this tax.

As per the draft Act, which will replace the Land Reform Ordinance, 1984 if the parliament approves, the 8 hectares cap will not be applicable to those owners who have been producing exportable items or have established export-focused agro-industries in their land.

Khandaker Anwarul also said the government is actively considering leasing any available government-owned land to freedom fighters and farmers without lands in their possession to build a residence on a priority basis.

However, the area of those lands will not be over 7,285 square feet, he said.

As per the draft law, the tenure of the land leasing contract with a farmer shall remain valid for five years, the cabinet secretary said.