The 2013 Land Law seeks to redress unequal land distribution for development projects, Nguyen Manh Hien, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, tells the Hai Quan (Customs) newspaper.
What are your assessments on the efficiency of socio-economic projects after the acquisition of farm land for factories and other developments?
In my opinion, during the process of socio-economic development on the path to industrialisation and modernisation, acquisitions of agricultural land for infrastructure, real-estate development and industry are indispensable.
Generally speaking, the restructure of agricultural land is totally in conformity with the national economic restructuring.
However, in many localities, after giving up their production land for development projects, many farmers don't have enough land left to farm while their former land often sits idle due to delays in project implementation. In addition, when projects are in full operation, managers sometimes don't keep their promise to recruit local people. This has caused a big social problem in many localities.
During National Assembly Question and Answer time, many deputies raised the issue of land left fallow or reduced in size by projects such as golf courses, airports or sea ports while farmers don't have land to cultivate. What do you say about that?
I have to concede that our planning has not always been good. Many localities hastily acquired land for the development of industrial parks or real-estate projects without thinking about their capacity to attract investors. All they wanted was to speed up the process of industrialisation and modernisation by any means.
Authorities in some localities also failed to properly evaluate the capacity of many investors to provide finance and actually implement a project. Weak supervision has aided these investors.
The provision of infrastructure was an important factor encouraging some local authorities to allocate rice farms to foreign and local investors. But rice farms in Viet Nam are often located in areas having good infrastructure and flat topography - factors helping cut costs for project owners.
Many localities gave "red carpet" treatment to investors. This helped drive the whole process of transformation of farm land to non-farm business.
When we talk of the poor performances by many projects or about the large amounts of highly productive land still lying waste, we must mention the weakness of land compensation and clearance in many localities.
Many people have expressed their anxiety about the threat of food security in the future as rice land continues to be given away. What do you say?
I agree. In the past few years, quite a large amount of rice land has been eaten up. That's why the National Assembly has adopted a Resolution to maintain 3.8 million hectares of rice land to ensure food security.
In addition, the Prime Minister has also issued an instruction to limit the acquisition of farm land for non-farm activities. So what we have to do now is to ensure socio-economic projects to go smoothly and bring high returns to the project owners and the country.
How can we harmonise the development of industry on farm land?
Many measures have been adopted by the Government, ministries and sectors. The most important tool is the Land Law (revision) approved by the National Assembly in late 2013.
Under the new law, if project owners fail to start their project according to the terms of the licence, they will be given 24 months to complete their projects. However, they have to pay a sum equal to the land-use fee or land-rent tariff that is applied at the time.
After 24 months' extension, if project owners still fail to put the land into use, the land will be taken back without compensation. For farmers who have had their land acquired, they will receive financial support from the government to stabilise their life and production. In addition, they will receive support in vocation training or job creation. — VNS