Property rights offer a better long-term solution to poverty says ECR development spokesman

11-Feb-2014 @ 18:0

Nirj Deva Nirj Deva

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

As European taxpayers continue to struggle in the wake of the global financial crisis, a report by ECR MEP Nirj Deva offers a long-term solution for poorer nations – through the development of property rights.

1.2 billion people worldwide live without permanent homes, land access or formal property rights; rights that would deliver secure physical assets to the most vulnerable regions of the world, bringing potential farmers and entrepreneurs into the formal economy and enabling them to secure their investments and intensify production, access credit and start businesses.

The report adopted today by the European Parliament’s Development Committee supports the principle that EU development aid should be seeking to create a culture of basic property rights so that people are empowered to better themselves, instead of relying on assistance. It calls on the European Commission – which is the World’s biggest aid donor – to make the development of property rights a major priority for EU funding and support such as through surveying land, training in land management, and processes for registering land.

Nirj Deva, Vice-President of the development committee, which oversees the EU’s development budget, said:

“Extra-legal and unregistered wealth has recently been estimated to value 9.3 trillion USD, a sum 93 times larger than the total amount of aid delivered to developing countries over the last 30 years.

“Yet, for the past two decades, we have accepted an overriding perception that financial aid alone is the golden ticket to eradicating poverty.

“Despite the admirable achievements of the MDGs, more than a billion people yet endure crippling and pervasive poverty. 22,000 children still die every single day because of it and they do so far removed from our sight or conscience, all too easily forgotten or ignored.

Deva continued:

“We are justifiably proud of our commitments towards aid assistance; the ring fencing of 0.7% of British GNI marking a signal acceptance of a shared responsibility. Yet, we face a rapidly dawning realisation; that aid alone is not enough.

“Without a legal piece of paper confirming their property, people in poorer countries have nothing they can borrow against to build their businesses and better their lives. People’s homes are nothing more than bricks and mortar, but with the right paperwork they can suddenly become a major security that can generate equity and wealth, providing jobs that will help the whole community.

“In much of Africa, who owns the land? Chiefs, governments, or communes. Creating a contractual regime for property ownership is the first stage towards giving people a stake in their country.

“The key challenges of the 21st century, whether food scarcity, energy scarcity, water shortages, urban population growth, environmental degradation, climate change, natural disasters or state fragility, are all irrevocably intertwined with land governance issues. We need to shift property rights to the forefront of a development policy designed to empower people in developing countries to invest sustainably in their own future.”

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