Valuer-general pledges no favouritism of state

Posted On Tuesday, 22 November 2016 11:56 Published by
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SA's first valuer-general moves to allay private sector fears that his office will favour the state when determining prices for properties identified for land restitution.

 Christopher_Gavor

A’s first valuer-general has moved to allay private sector fears that his office will favour the state when determining prices for properties identified for land restitution.

Christopher Gavor was appointed in May 2015 as the country’s first valuer-general and his office was established in 2014 after the Property Valuation Act was signed into law.

Although set up as a separate entity, the office reports to the minister of rural development and land reform.

The office is seen as crucial in ensuring that the government’s land reform programme runs smoothly, but there are concerns that the valuergeneral will invariably come up with prices that are favourable to the state.

Gavor said: “People will have confidence in valuers if things are done professionally. The office is not a government entity — it’s a public entity ... a professional body.

“It is important it is not seen as a government mechanism to deal with land reform.”

He was speaking at a seminar organised by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.

Gavor said the Treasury, which is in charge of disbursing funds for the agrarian land reform programme, supported the valuer-general’s autonomy.

There was no evidence that valuations done by the valuergeneral would be lower than the market price, he said.

The office is responsible for the valuation of land, with a focus on balancing public interest and the interests of those affected by an acquisition.

When acquiring land, the government will not be in a position to offer more money than the maximum price determined by the valuer-general.

Gavor explained that, in determining the value of land, the valuer-general will take into account five other factors in the Constitution, rather than confining the process to the market value of a property.

These factors include use of a property, history of the acquisition target, market value, extent of direct state involvement and purpose of the acquisition.

He emphasised that, at the end of the day, it will be up to the courts to make a final decision as to whether a price was fair.

Parliament has passed the Expropriation Bill, which paved the way for the state to pay for land at a price determined by the valuer-general.

Annelize Crosby, AgriSA’s land and parliamentary liaison officer, said the state had always had the means to expropriate because the Constitution granted it that power. It was critical for the valuer-general to operate in an independent, unbiased fashion.

source: Business Day

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 November 2016 12:15

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