FARMERS who default on paying quarterly land rentals for nine months will have their offer letters cancelled, according to proposals contained in the new Finance Bill.
The defaulters will also not be able to access any public funds payable to farmers to support agricultural activities. The Bill says rentals and development levies will be payable quarterly by lessees, holders of Model A1 farm permits and holders of Model A2 farm offer letters and those who default risk losing their properties.
“This clause will replace the chapter in the Finance Act which sets out the rates of rentals to be charged on holders of offer letters in respect of, or leases of, Model A2 farms allocated to them by the state.
The new chapter will also charge rentals on holders of Model A1 farms. In addition, the ministry responsible for Lands and Resettlement will also be made responsible for the collection from holders of offer letters and leases and permit holders of Model A1 and A2 farms of the development levy (which was previously charged and collected by the Rural district Council),” reads part of the Bill which will be on the agenda when Parliament sits next week after its gazetting on August 28.
“The minister responsible for the gazetted land (Consequential Provisions act Chapter 20:28 No 8 of 2006) shall cancel the offer letter of any holder thereof who fails to pay the rentals for three consecutive quarters. For the avoidance of doubt, the rentals and development levies collected in terms of this chapter shall form part of the consolidated revenue fund.”
It says any public assistance for farmers is conditional on full payment of rentals and development levies. It also gives a reprieve for farmers who would have cleared their debt within 30 days of the cancellation of their leases. “Provided that the holder of the offer letter tenders payment of the full amount of the rentals due within 30 days after receiving written notice of cancellation of his or her offer letter, the offer letter shall be deemed not to be cancelled,” adds the Bill.
The funds collected from farmers must be used to meet expenditure on conservation works, health and educational facilities, dip tanks and road development in the areas.
The Bill gives the charges as follows: A2 Model rentals of $3 per hectare per annum while $2 is paid for a developmental levy every year. For Model A1, rentals are $10 per annum regardless the size of the property while the developmental levy is pegged at $5 per year. chronicle