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Experts divided over land law shift

Update: March, 08/2012 - 08:10

HA NOI — Policy-makers and experts remain divided over proposed amendments to the Land Law, said Deputy Director of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's General Department of Land Management Dao Trung Chinh.

Speaking to reporters at the press briefing on land management activities in Ha Noi yesterday, Chinh said his ministry was still collecting ideas to come up with the optimal approach, adding that changes to the Land Law should be made in a cautious way given its wide-scale impact on society.

He cited a moot point was to increase the agricultural land limit.

Under the Land Law of 2003, a farmer could only use up to 3 hectares of land to farm on.

Opponents of the idea argue that a large proportion of the labour force was still working in the agriculture sector and that maintaining the current limit would mean many more could own land for production. At the same time, proponents said putting a cap on land would hamper the large-scale and concentrated agricultural production.

Chinh said his ministry's stand was to support the proposal because, in accordance with the national development strategy towards industrialisation, the ratio of labour in the agriculture sector should shrink from 35 to 30 per cent by 2020, making land accumulation for modern agricultural production imperative.

With 20-year land leases, as stipulated in the 1993 Land Law, set to expire next year, increasing or even omitting lease durations is another spiky issue.

Yet a more immediate problem relates to what would happen to farmers when their land leases came to an end.

Addressing this concern, Chinh said farmers who were granted land under the previous agreement could continue farming for another 20 years (until 2033).

Regarding adjusting the duration of land leases, he said it did not matter whether leases spanned 20 or 50 years because the current law allowed farmers to renew them as long as they wished to continue farming.

Given that the land compensation rate was among the leading causes behind land price litigations, Chinh said there should be an independent agency to evaluate land prices rather than State agencies.

He said, "Many people think it could be less objective if the State both revokes land and evaluates prices at the same time."

As of now, there is virtually no professional price evaluator in the country.

In a separate move, the Government will soon issue instructions to residents and farmers on procedures to extend land leases.

Head of the Government Office Vu Duc Dam made the statement at a press conference on Tuesday following a February cabinet meeting.

The confirmation came at a time when many farmers expressed concern that land leased in 1993 might be lost next year according to the Land Law, especially after the land withdrawal case in Tien Lang District, northern Hai Phong city. — VNS

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