Dr Lawrence Walters

Dr Lawrence Walters in Manila delivering the training programme he authored in land-based finance for governments.

Manila, December 12 2015 — National and local level governments in the Philippines were among the first to take part in UN-Habitat’s new land-based finance training programme.

Held in Manila from 9-11 December 2015, the training programme titled Leveraging Land: Land-Based Finance for Governments focused on instruments available to local governments to expand their revenue base and generate funds.

“One of the significant challenges facing urban authorities in developing countries is the availability of financial resources necessary to support and sustain urban development,” said Dr Lawrence Walters, principal author of the training programme.

“Many urban authorities are seriously under-resourced and hence are unable to meet the ever-growing demand for basic services and new infrastructure, as well as the maintenance of existing infrastructure and services. Land based finance aims to enhance the availability of resources for local governments.”

Liz Patterson from UN-Habitat’s Urban Economy Branch in Nairobi pointed out that land value increase is a result of actions done by government and society such as the construction of roads or development of adjacent public spaces.  Thus, this land value increase should benefit not just land owners but the government and general public.

Attended by senior representatives of national government agencies and five local government units, along with one regional representative from Myanmar, the training programme covered seven different land-based finance instruments. The participants chose to focus on three specific tools:

  1. betterment charges and special assessments
  2. developer exactions
  3. sale of development rights

Other land-based finance instruments covered in the training programme included recurrent taxes on land and buildings, land value increment taxes, land leases and sale of public lands, and transfer taxes and stamp duties.

UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Christopher Rollo said the training gave participants a solid understanding of the various instruments, challenging participants to think critically regarding requirements to implement each tool, as well as how to use the tools or mix of tools to finance development programs and projects.

Group photo

Seated from left: Eileen San Juan, Cagayan de Oro City Investments and Promotions Officer; Christopher Rollo, UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager; Atty. Linda Hornilla, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board Commissioner; David Garcia, UN-Habitat Urban Planner and Mapping Specialist; Standing from left: Don Rommel Dais, Local Assessment Operations Officer, Bureau of Local Government Finance; Carlos Cordero, City Assessor, Tacloban City.

Feedback from participants highlighted the effectiveness of gathering representatives from both national and local level government units, as each were able to inform the other on challenges and restrictions regarding existing laws and practices.

“The UN-Habitat sponsored land-based finance training is timely because of the national Government’s thrust for local government units to be self-sufficient and be more dependent on local resources,” said Stanley Buyco, Chief of Tax Mapping Division, Silay City.

“Local resources need not be in the form of new taxes. The land-based finance training presented us tools that local government units may use to finance local projects, especially in infrastructure development.”

At the end of the training programme, national government agencies and local government units developed action plans to improve upon and implement land-based financing in the country and respective local governments.

Former Professor at the Brigham Young University, Dr Lawrence Walters has completed more than 20 research projects in land policy and land reform for the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, National Science Foundation, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the US Forest Service and others. He has also personally worked with the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monte, to assess property tax reform measures for the Italian Government.

The training programme was organized by UN-Habitat with support from the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN).

An evaluation of the training program can be downloaded here: Evaluation report (PDF)