Dr Nguyen Duy Luong, Permanent Vice Chairman of the Viet Nam Farmers' Union, tells Nong thon Ngay nay (Countryside Today) that land consolidation needs the support of the people to be successful.
Farmers in some lo-calities have not been happy with the way local authorities have managed land consolidation. Many of them have lodged petitions and denunciations against the authorities. What is your assessment of this situation?
A very important principle in the land consolidation policy is the practice of democracy at the grassroots level.
Typically, the local Party Committee comes up with the policy and the People's Committee executes it by developing a plan in consultation with the people. The plan should only be implemented when it is endorsed by the people.
For this it is necessary that all the information and data relating to land in the village or commune is disclosed to the people. This is also true of the proposed land consolidation plan.
An important reason for petitions and denunciations in localities across the nation is poor information disclosure by certain local authorities. They want to conceal the information so that their families or relatives could have fields in better positions. This could be seen in several land disputes in Ha Noi's outlying districts.
In these districts, would you say that people are right in blaming hasty decisions taken by local authorities?
Partly, yes. I would say that Ha Noi has been proactive in implementing the land consolidation policy. The municipal authorities have offered special support, including financial incentives, to localities implementing this policy.
I appreciate Ha Noi's decision. Financial support can be very effective in motivating many localities to work hard and put the land consolidation policy into practice. But, in some localities, the authorities have forgotten a very important element in the grassroots democracy principle that I have mentioned above. They simply ran after the achievement.
In addition, they have put their own interests above all during the implementation. In some localities, they have have even resorted to the use of force or criminalising some voluntary civil activities conducted by the farmers.
In some localities, the local authorities have speeded up land consolidation in order to have large production fields. But in reality, after it was done, there was no significant change in the production mode. Why do you think this has happened?
I don't agree with the way that these authorities have acted.
Their pretext for speeding up the process of land consolidation in order to have a large production area or specialised area as a condition for building new rural areas cannot be justified. What they have done is based on their subjective thinking.
Establishing a large production area or specialised area involves many factors, including production organisation, farmers' skills and technology levels, consumption markets and so on.
Whatever we want to do, there is no argument that the farmers' living conditions must be improved. What should we do to ensure that the farmers will benefit the most from land consolidation?
First, the local authorities should draw lessons learned during the implementation of the policy so far. They should use this to formulate a standard protocol for implementing the policy hereafter.
Second, government agencies, provincial and district authorities should sit together to review land management activities at commune and township levels.
And finally, functional agencies should promptly handle the people's petitions and denunciations and duly punish corrupt government officials. This is the only way can we restore the people's confidence. — VNS