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Ethnic minorities to get land for housing

Update: May, 27/2013 - 09:54

HCM CITY (VNS)— Ethnic minorities living in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta will benefit from a new Government policy to provide them land for housing and jobs.

Under a decision issued by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last Monday (May 20), city and provincial people's committees can allot land to local ethnic people to build suitable housing.

The Government will also provide a maximum of VND30 million (US$1,400) to poor, landless ethnic families to buy land for housing.

These families will also receive from local agencies financial support that is not less than 10 per cent of this amount to buy residential land.

If localities have land that can be turned into residential land, local authorities can use the subsidy amounts for land clearance and building infrastructure before allotting the land to eligible families.

Families getting land are prohibited from selling it and have to use it within 10 years.

Poor ethnic minority families in the delta will also be provided with soft loans of up to VND30 million to start businesses and boost their incomes.

The loans will be closely monitored by authorised agencies.

Between 2012 and 2016, according to a government report last September, 326,909 ethnic minority households — or nearly 2 million people – will require assistance to build houses and improve their livelihoods.

Ksor Phuoc, chairman of the National Assembly's Ethnic Council, said though the delta has plenty of land, most of it is already owned, and so local authorities have to buy lands to allocate them to poor ethnic people.

Allocation of land to individuals has been taking place since 1989 and was recognized by the 1993 Land Law.

According to the Land Law, farmers are allowed to sell, lease, mortgage, and inherit land, which causes some to sell or lose their land when they are unable to repay loans. Only about 12 per cent of farmers own more than 1 hectare of land.

Only 2 per cent of rural households lack agricultural land, but the problem of landlessness is growing, especially in the delta and south-eastern regions, where the number of rural households with more than 1 hectare has increased to 5.8 per cent in recent years.

Consequently, landlessness in the two regions increased from less than 0.7 per cent in 1994 to 5.7 per cent in 1998, when figures are last available. The landless farmers here account for nearly 90 per cent of the country's total, according to the General Statistics Department.

Significantly, many of the landless farmers belong to ethnic minorities.

The Government seeks to address this problem through its new policy by first providing them land to build houses and then helping them develop a business to improve their livelihood. —VNS

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