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Red tape causes big red book backlog

Update: February, 28/2018 - 09:00

Red tape has dragged out the issuance of land use certificates in HCM City, causing more than 100,000 cases to remain on the shelves, gathering dust.— Photo thanhnien.vn

HCM CITY — Red tape has dragged out the issuance of land use certificates in HCM City, causing more than 100,000 cases to remain on the shelves, gathering dust.

The land use certificate, commonly known as the red book, is the only authorised document proving the rights of a citizen to build house on or to sell a land lot. But the latest statistics from the city Land Registry Office (LOR) shows that the files of 109,251 land lots whose owners have applied for the red book have fallen into the backlog.

HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment Director Nguyễn Toàn Thắng acknowledged the delays, telling the Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper that the procedure in which district-level LORs have to send all the completed certificates up to the department for seal of approval holds back the work dramatically.

This procedure was first introduced when the Law on Land 2013 came into force in July 2014. The granting of the red book, which was previously under the jurisdiction of the district-level People’s Committee and the local LORS, now must receive the approval of the natural resources department.

An experienced real-estate services provider in Thủ Đức District named Hạnh said that the mounting delays in red book issuance since the new law came into effect was irritating the residents.

She said that while it only took about three months to have a red book granted a few years ago, now it could take at least six months and even the whole year. Residents wait without knowing for sure when exactly they can get the certificate.

“Everything was so smooth back then but the new regulations messed things up, and more importantly, affected the citizens while costing the Government more money and staff,” Hạnh said.

“The administrative reform did not go forwards but actually backwards.”

A director of a local LOR who asked for anonymity admitted that the main reason for the red book backlog came from the massive workload that burdened the natural resources department.

While in the past, 24 district authorities were allowed to grant the land use certificate, the number has shrunk down to only two people who are responsible for all applications in the city, he said, adding that a workflow bottleneck was therefore unavoidable.

“For now all applications were submitted on time to the department for approval, but the returning was mostly delayed. The delay was even worse for cases in localities far from the city centre like Cần Giờ and Củ Chi,” the director said.

He also revealed that the city spent around VNĐ20 billion (US$888,800) each year just sending the red book applications from localities to the department, which was clearly a waste of tax payers’ money and time.

“The jurisdiction [for granting red books] should be returned to the localities to cut unnecessary stages,” he said.

HCM City Natural Resources and Environment Department Director Nguyễn Toàn Thắng said that in an effort to hasten the issuing of land use certificate, the city recently asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the General Department of Land Administration to let HCM City pilot allowing local LORs to grant approval in cases of renewing and changing the existing red books.

“It will save a lot of time and cost because we already have an extensive network of branch LORs,” Thắng said.

He estimated that there were more than 600,000 applications for changing and renewing households’ red books in the first 10 months of 2017, suggesting that the workflow would be much faster if everything was done at the localities instead of the department.

“While waiting to amend the regulations, we can pilot it in HCM City first and if it works, the rest of the country can follow,” Thắng said. — VNS      

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