Land Administration: Examples
From a Transition Country
by Milan Brajnik
Every (armed) conflict has its own historical background and
development. Post conflict activities, represented as a complex
system of linked measures, are depending of a single, specific
situation in the treated area. The same territorial particularity
is valid for the observed land administration sphere too.
Republic of Slovenia is a transition country and could not be
considered as a post conflict area – but there was an armed
conflict presented! The conflict was a consequence of a common
process of social system changes in the whole Central and Eastern
Europe. There was no other serious territorial, ethnical or
economical cause in the background. It is known as a “War for
Slovenia” and was limited in time, damage and number of victims.
Conflict was started as a resistance to the violent ex Yugoslav
Army intervention after the independence declaration and was
finished by Brioni Agreement when the Yugoslav Army terminates
its military involvement in Slovenia.
Regarding the whole region and further development in other
ex Yugoslav Republics, Slovenia could only be considered as
a neighbouring country of the post conflict area, where the
transition processes are combined with serious problems of ethnical
envy. The whole, so called, ex Eastern Block is nowadays in
huge transition process. Slovenia has passed the first period
of this process and it is today in a period of ripening – we
could say that, after happily passing the childhood, finds itself
in the problematic age of puberty.
Considering historical period that is important for the land
administration sector development, the German influences were
most important through last centuries. Slovenian regions were
included in Habsburg monarchy from 14th century till the changes
after 1st World war, when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
was formed. After 2nd World war Slovenia becomes one of ex Yugoslav
Land Cadastre and Land Register
Started in the years between 1823 and 1828 the first systematic
cadastral survey was performed and cadastral plans in scale
1:2880 produced. For the whole territory the ownership, land
use and land classification was defined and so the value of
property for taxation purposes was gained. Later, based on mentioned
data, the Land Register was established and dual (two book)
property registration model legalised. The maintenance was correct
enough till the communist regime was restored and land tenure
The Period of Planned / Administrative Economy
The period of communist regime in ex Socialist Federative Republic
of Yugoslavia leaves crucial consequences, not only in land
administration maters, in whole nowadays society. The educational
system was adapted to the socialist philosophy and the whole
today active population has got such a treatment (1945 – 1991).
The social system was not in favour of exact and complete real
estate registration. Most property was social owned (it is difficult
to find the difference between social and state ownership),
private ownership and initiative was not popular (specially
in first decades). Land Cadastre and Land Register were in low
accordance and generally in bad condition, renewal was very
limited. Extreme backlogs and long waiting periods for land
registration and alteration to cadastral data entries (1 – 2,5
years) were normal facts.
Geodetic service was in competence of local administration,
performed by Municipal Cadastral Offices and a few geodetic
organisations. State (central) Surveying Authority was in competence
of preparing legislation, regulations, guidelines and orders
and was a seconddegree body in the administration procedure.
Land register remains in competence of local (district) courts.
The Period of Transition
New Slovenian constitution marked the way toward economic system
changes (market oriented economy). Security of tenure becomes
essential again. Problems of missed approach to land policy
and bad real estate registration escalate.
Processes of privatisation, denationalisation and a new investment
cycle brought new aspects and needs in front of surveyors. The
situation was a challenge for quick and effective reorganisation
of Land Administration sector.
Bad Condition of Data Collections
Big arrears and long waiting periods for land registration process
were recognized as serious trouble for economic development.
Different possibilities and different interests in different
municipalities did result in a big difference in cadastral maintenance
(similar in land registration). There was different approach
to a problem of cadastral data modernisation in different municipal
centres; some separate tests of cadastral data and plans were
made. Central Surveying Authority was not in position to take
a lead and has small influence on existed 46 Municipal Cadastral
Land Administration Reorganisation
Analogue approach to maintaining of the property (and other)
data collections becomes totally impractical. Desires and needs
of society leads toward effective Land Information System or
even better Geographical Information System, where more spatial
and other data would be connected in scope of better decision
Three fundamental real estate records were defined (Land Register,
Land Cadastre and the Building Cadastre), two of them in bad
condition and disharmonised because of historical reasons and
third, the Building Cadastre as a new evidence to be set.
On the bases of new Organization and Ministries Sphere of work
Act and Administration Act the centralization of vital public
services was performed (1995). Geodetic service becomes a competence
of state administration, the Surveying and Mapping Authority
of Republic of Slovenia (SMA) with the main office, 12 regional
authorities and their 46 affiliates gained present mandate.
As the legislation renewal was still in progress the Minister
of Environment and Physical Planning issues the obligatory order
on implementation of geodetic services via private sector. SMA
contracted external performers for technical works in the process
of land registration (as the considerable number of private
companies were founded). The processes of registration were
accelerated, backlogs in cadastral maintenance practically compensated,
but data disharmony stays problematic.
New Geodetic Activities Act (2000) defines the surveying and
mapping activity and determines conditions to implement this
activity. Technical works and procedures in connection with
geodetic service duties can only be implemented by geodetic
company or an independent entrepreneur that has granted a permit
to carry out geodetic services. Judicial system stays with district,
high and appeal courts and the Supreme Court as the highest
court. Land Register stays in competence of district courts
(Land Register Offices).
Digitalisation of cadastral data becomes one of priorities of
geodetic services. Till the year of 1995 the theoretical basis
of making the Digital Cadastral plans were clear and big enough,
testing was finished (25% of cadastral data was already transformed
and harmonized). Because of quicker and easier attain of the
objectives, the decision of separate digitalisation and later
harmonisation of textual and graphical records was made. Central
database of textual cadastral records was restored for the whole
state (as a result of an agreement between different institutions
responsible for public services and taxation). In next step
all needed software solutions were prepared and training of
involved SMA personal and executors staff was finished. Connection
with Land Register was still a time consuming work (several
projects of digitalisation of the Land Register somehow cant
get to life).
The only serious problem of the moment was, that exposed needs
seemed to be bigger than were sources for execution of all tasks
to be done.
Real Estate Registration Modernisation
On the field of Land Policy several branches of profession crosses
their knowledge and interest. The cooperation between responsible
agencies is crucial for further development. Slovenian Government
has named Program Council for RERM (1998) and defined SMA to
take coordinative role on the field of real estate registration
modernisation. Program Council, chaired by the Minister of Environment
and Physical Planning and with other members of high influence
in society, took an important role in further actions toward
creating Land Policy.
The loan was raised at the International Bank for Reconstruction
and Development and founds acquired from the Phare program in
order to implement the RERM project. The project was started
in 1999 and will last till the year 2005. There are five responsible
agencies that are involved and are cooperating in the project,
supported by foreign consultants and supervised by World Bank
staff. The fundamental purpose and objective of the Project
is to provide basic data on real estate and their ownership,
to introduce new technologies, computerize real estate records
and to bring the Slovenian legislation related to real estate
management into line with the existing legislation of EU Member
States. The goals of eight started subprojects were very ambitious,
but results are already visible and presented through reports.
Step by step approach results in smaller development arrears,
the project seems to be successful, but modernisation of Land
Administration still last - new reorganisation is on horizon
The whole so called ex Eastern Block is in transition process.
Slovenia has passed the first period of this process and it
seems to act as “by the book” (regarding to issued FIG vision
“Cadastre 2014” (1998) or United Nations Economic Commission
for Europe recommendations “Land Administration Guidelines (1996)).
But is there any such a way, a common recipe existing? Is Slovenian
example useful for other transiting countries?
As it was already said, every conflict has its own historical
background and development. The recipes could only exist on
a general level. Post conflict activities are depending of a
specific situation in the treated area, but of course, as there
are differences, there are similarities and possible patterns
The most important is the definition of a clear vision of the
region development, but this is a difficult and sensitive mission
to do. Observing Land Administration valid the same, creation
of the clear vision is crucial (after first prevention of RE
registration sets). International community has to define domestic
experts and support them to find their own way of resolving
the situation. Good cooperation between foreign and domestic
experts is needed but difficult to achieve. Several times it
depends of personalities involved. Neighbourhood countries,
not involved in the conflict, could be very useful in this process
of approach, acting a kind of a “bridge” among involved and
passing their own experiences and views.
The combination of post conflict processes with transition process
(economic social system changes) multiplies problems. Domestic
knowledge, experiences and even way of understanding on any
topic are adapted to another system. There is a traditional
doubt in system and administration existing. Administration
in Planned administrative economy was generally slow, with strong
inert tendencies. Capacity building on all levels (public and
private sector) is of extreme importance and shall enable further
reconstruction of the Land Administration system.
While the market oriented economy is in construction, the private
sector needs special attention and support for development.
Competition between sectors has positive consequences on improvement
of the services. Private sector could act as a kind of intermediate
factor between clients and administration. Construction of private
sector is depending of several factors, but mostly of enough
appropriate work tendered in “open market” (the truth is that
such a market is under construction in transition countries).
Needs and demands in front of Land Administration system are
extreme and claim quick results (possible donors also demand
efficiency for their founds), but we have to consider that transition
is a long process and some patience is needed! Capable private
sector will be the important factor of further development in
next steps, but there must be development of such a sector present!
Preparation of the projects and tendering must consider development
of this sector in the observed region too. This sector may not
be immediately exposed to global open market, because it could
not be prepared for such a competition and there will be any
such a sector developed when needed! On the other side, attention
is also needed because of possible deviations in direction of
an organized crime and corruption growth. A Question of “Giving
a fish or a fishing stick?” is a difficult one and needs special
observation of the regional situation and lots of communication
between foreign and domestic experts.
Every environment is developing, changing and reorganizing under
historic and nowadays influences. Conflicts are presented and
are being resolved on different, even violent ways. Post conflict
activities, as transition processes too, are time consuming
and need a lot of patient and sustained collaboration of all
involved, strong international support and observation. Short-term
solutions are important, but without further resolving of problems
and compromise vision definition, have no serious effect, the
conflict stays “frozen” and threatening. Every environment needs
to find the own way and develop own opportunities. Reorganization
is followed by another reorganization!
Surveying and Mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia,
Activities Report, 2003
SMA, Real Estate Registration Modernisation Project, Intermediate
Article prepared for the Symposium on Land Administration in
Post Conflict Areas April 29 - 30, 2004 Geneva