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Land issues pose headache

Update: September, 29/2012 - 09:19

Dr Nguyen Quang Tuyen, Dean of the Faculty of Land Law at Ha Noi Law University, spoke to the newspaper Tuoi Tre (Youth) on the need for an independent law evaluation agency and land evaluation.

Why are nearly half the one million denunciations and complaints lodged by citizens in the last nine years about poor land administration and policy implementation?

The basic reason is the unsatisfactory handling of the interests between people with land-use rights with the State. The existing land law has not been able to solve issues relating to compensation and land evaluation in the case of acquisition.

It is a matter of fact that the price of land acquisition is much lower than that at the market price. As a result, many families who have given up their land for development projects or other reasons find the compensation insufficient to buy a house or even a plot of land. In the end, they lodge complaints or, in serious cases, denunciations.

Another reason is the poor legal knowledge of public officers working in the field. This is a major cause of wrong administrative decisions.

A third cause of complaints are conflicts between interest groups and corruption.

A government review of the 2003 Land Law says land evaluation reflects only 30 to 60 per cent of the real market price. To remedy this, in the revised land law, the State will act as the sole land evaluating agency. It will use market price as the solid foundation for calculating prices. Will this help?

I have to say that land evaluation is not simple. It requires specific and clear, yet simple procedures. These procedures must be scientifically sound and workable.

The 2003 Land Law regulates that land evaluations must reflect as closely as possible normal market prices. But the regulation is qualitative and not easy to bring to life. Even the use of the phrase "market economy" needs defining. Is it a free market or a market controlled by the State? I have sent my comments on the phrase "market economy" to the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment.

That's not all, the concept "suitable to the market economy" is introduced in the draft of the 2003 revision of the Land Law. It is just like old wine in a new bottle. When the draft is presented to the National Assembly Standing Committee, I guess it will meet with strong criticism.

I still remember National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung saying "denunciations and petitions will continue if we don't come up with a clear, specific, simple and sound scientific law".

Is the question for the drafting committee: ‘What market should we use as the foundation for the land evaluation?'

In Taiwan, land compensation is based on investment in the land by the land owner, not the value added following the government's investment in infrastructure development.

However, in Viet Nam, under the 2003 Land Law, the State regulates the increasing value of the land due to impacts coming from external factors. Regrettably, such legislation only stays on paper as it does not introduce a specific mechanism to turn it into reality.

This is the root cause for breeding unfairness. In my own opinion, the State should do the land evaluation and pay compensation at the time the land is revoked. Of course, the evaluation method should follow the practice of other countries, not simply saying that the price is about 30-60 per cent of the actual price in the market.

After giving up their land for public development, members of affected families, particularly those who are still working, should be offered job opportunities by attending skill training courses. Social welfare funds should also be established to help others.

The most important element is that all information must be transparent and accountable and no safe haven for corrupt officials or the interests of certain groups. — VNS

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