Former National Assembly deputy and agricultural expert Professor Vo Tong Xuan talked to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about the need to amend the Land Law.
Why do you think the Land Law should be amended?
The draft of the Land Law is still being built. Agricultural production is inherently risky and it can take time to recover outlays, therefore farmers invest in production on their allocated land with all their heart. Allocating land for a fixed 20 years is creating serious psychological concerns for farmers as none of them dare to think about expansion.
Many claim it is necessary to fix a time-limit for land allocation so that it can be easily reclaimed if necessary. This is to ensure the success of a policy that sets out to allocate farm land to all peasants who need it.
I maintain that this is not necessarily good for land-use management, even making farm plots too small and scattered. This would create difficulties in producing rice on a large scale.
Regarding land ownership, I believe ownership should apply to land for homes, farm land and inherited land. Only newly reclaimed land should belong to the entire people. However, no NA deputy supported my opinions.
What needs to be changed in the existing Land Law?
It is clear that land allocation for a fixed duration and with no recognition of ownership has made land users feel insecure and discouraged them from investing in agricultural production to some extent.
There is also a cumbersome volume of legal documents relating to land use issues. Local authorities often distort the rules or use them incorrectly. They also complicate land management issues to seek profits at the expense of land users.
The case of Doan Van Vuon of Tien Lang District, who acted against the local authorities' decision to withdraw 50ha of land assigned to his family in 1993, is a typical incident. The Land Law should be tidy and consistent instead of being changed regularly, which causes management difficulties and other problems.
Many nations recognise private land ownership. In Viet Nam, people do not have ownership rights over land. This is at odds with the reality that people still sell and buy land, pass inheritance rights on land use - and deposit land-use certificates as a guarantee at banks to get loans.
This shows that land is property and rights of use are similar to the rights of ownership. With this already a reality, the existing Land Law must be changed to match the present situation. We should recognise land-use ownership rights while introducing multi-ownerships, such as national, individual, and that of an legal entity.
Would it be difficult for the State to ensure all peasants have land for production?
Once land ownership is recognised, it would deter local authorities from trying to take it back from farmers and use it for wrong purpose. Holding the concept that land belongs to the entire people, many provinces reclaimed agricultural land to build economic zones, industrial parks and urban areas. Yet, they have left them unused and caused a big waste of money in the end.
It is not necessary to allot agricultural land to every farmer to ensure his/her income. In integration trend, it is a must to build a highly competitive market. This means it is needed to reorganise production, apply science and technology and create value added products in agricultural production.
Should the policy that limits the amount of land farmers are allowed to possess and the duration they are allowed to work on it be abolished?
Yes. Many households possess tens, somtimes hundreds of hectares of land through the transfer of land use and leases. They did so by asking relatives or friends to buy land in their names.
Households with large areas of land are willing to apply science and technology and machinery to production, which is more effective and brings higher profits. Farmers who sell land use rights or lease land and work for land buyers as hired workers, also have higher incomes.
Viet Nam plans to develop its agricultural sector, so land accumulation is indispensable. Farming profits will increase and prices will stablise once the country apply's science and technology to farming in order to produce quality, competitive products. — VNS