Department of Lands
Land offices in Thailand have to deal with approximately 31 million parcels of land records in about 300 million hard copy documents. Some are over 100 years old. Booncherd Kidhen, Thailand’s Director General of Lands tells Geospatial Media how geospatial technology helps them cope.
What is the mandate of Department of Lands (DOL)?
DOL has a mission “to protect the land rights of individuals and managing public land” with main functions in conducting cadastral survey; issuing land right document; registering of rights and juristic act on land, building and condominium; promoting real estate business; and managing public land through land offices across the country.
What is the kind of information it provides?
DOL provides cadastral maps, land records – both private and public land, as well as condominiums. DOL also maintains a database of land information system which can be accessed directly from land offices. However, the database only covers main cities in Thailand; not the entire country.
What are the challenges in maintaining land records in a country like Thailand?
At present, DOL renders service delivery through land offices with approximate 31 million parcels of land records in about 300 million hard copy documents kept in the store room at the land offices. Some of the hard copies are over 100 years old. Thus, the maintenance of land records has many procedures, and we have insufficient officers to cope with the workload. For this matter, we have to provide more area for keeping land records at each land office.
The challenge in maintaining land records is how to convert hard copy land records to digital records. In consequence, we are currently developing our Land Registration System through the implementation of the National Land Information and Mapping Centre Project.
In your view, how can secure land rights contribute to economic growth of a nation?
Land is a precious property, capital and collateral to the security of family and social in many aspects such as residence, agriculture, industry, commercial and investment. DOL is responsible for issuance of title deed document (certificate of ownership) and certificate of utilization to private land holder with the objective to protect land boundary and rights in land tenure of the people.
Security of tenure promotes investment in land, increasing productivity, raising incomes, providing employment opportunities and reduces disputes related to rights in land and land boundary. Furthermore, secure tenure in the form of freely transferable title deed provides opportunity in accessing to financial institution which leads to cash circulation from registration of transaction, thereby expanding economic growth of the country.
How are you using various geospatial technologies like GIS, remote sensing, aerial surveying, GPS in your activities?
DOL has implemented GIS Development Project, which allows public to inquire cadastral maps via web-GIS with the collaboration of online mapping service of Google Map. This project helps in increasing efficiency of our service delivery. We use GIS technology in managing public land allocation for poverty eradication; reducing disputes related to rights in land, land boundary, forest boundary, and public land boundary. We also produce photomaps using aerial photography.
How frequently do you update your data?
Data updating of land records for the hard copy must be done daily at the end of the day in land offices; while for the digital data, the land information system is updated automatically.
We have recently seen that citizens in Thailand have been very vocal regarding undocumented land rights. What is being done in this direction?
Undocumented land is land which occupied and utilized by people without holding land right documents. As prescribed in the Land Code, some categories of land are prohibited to be issued title deed (certificate of ownership) i.e. forest area or public land. However, under forest laws, land occupiers can be permitted to use arable land with just permission document not land right document.
How can geospatial value be monetized in land administration?
DOL collects average of 50,000-70,000 million Baht per year in land transactions in the form of transfer fee, stamp duty, income tax (a form of capital gains tax) and special business tax (a tax for preventing speculation). With 5-7 million cases per year, this has been one of the most effective means of increasing government revenue with tendency of continuous increase as well.
DOL has introduced a number of initiatives that result in improved service delivery. As secure tenure in the form of a freely transferable title deed provides the incentive to capitalize on the asset through land improvement, the issuance of the title deed will increase the value of land and open door to medium and long term credit. Security of tenure also fosters land markets and promotes investments in the land and its sustainable use, increasing productivity, raising incomes, providing employment opportunities, enhancing capacity building and increasing confidence of land and property owner in the protection of property as property is fundamental to their livelihood. The increase in collection is summarized in table below: