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Land Law needs amendments to ensure better lives for displaced residents: expert

Prof Dang Hung Vo said Vietnam is taking a step forward with the policy that the lives of people whose land is taken back by the state to make room for investment and development projects must be equal or better than they were before.

Many investors ask for land allocation to implement projects, but they are very slow in project execution. They hoard the land and only implement projects when the land prices become high. What do you say about this problem?

The amended Land Law must settle the problem.

Resolution 18 of the Party Central Committee shows how to deal with pending projects and projects slow in implementation. There are three types of pending projects.

First, pending plans. The state has planned development in the areas, but the plan is not implemented.

I think that all planning must have a fixed term. If investors still want to retain planning though the time is over, it is necessary to compensate people for the extended time, because during that time they cannot build and repair houses on that land and their lives are affected.

The upcoming amended Land Law needs to expand the list of cases for compensation, not just compensation for cases where land-use rights are restricted as they are included in construction works’ safety corridor.

In HCM City, the metro underground can have no high-rise building built above it. As such, the metro project takes away a lot of use of the land, and people are not compensated for this. In this case, people’s rights are restricted.

Previously, we repeatedly said that new accommodations for people in re-settlement areas must be equal or better than the previous ones.

Meanwhile, the Resolution 18 clarifies this: “the lives of people whose land is taken back must be better or at least equal to that before the land recovery”.

These are two completely different categories – accommodations and lives. When we mention accommodation or residence we just mean the place for resettlement. Meanwhile, life comprises accommodation, living environment, jobs and opportunities.

Regarding pending plans, if it is the fault of state agencies not capable of implementing the planning, they have to compensate people, or have to remove the pending plan.

Second, pending site clearance. A lot of projects run slowly because of problems related to the site clearance, which makes both investors and people ‘get stuck’ and projects unable to be completed, thus causing a big waste.

Third, projects go slowly because investors deliberately slow project implementation. They try to hoard land and wait for land prices to go up.

In this case, we are dealing with investors in accordance with the 2013 Land Law. But there are problems. The law stipulates that after 24 months of using land not on schedule, investors get an extension of 24 more months. If the investors still don’t develop the projects, the State will take back the land and seize all assets on the land.

Some experts point out that the confiscation is not in line with the Constitution, which says that the State protects all assets of enterprises investing in Vietnam. In this case, the investors violate the regulations in land use, not assets, so that their assets cannot be confiscated.

I think it is necessary to deal with cases with a taxation policy. I mean taxing high on pending projects, or imposing administrative fines. If investors lose money, they will have to find solutions to speed up project implementation.

Regarding the administrative fine, some people say it is just a slap on the wrist and investors are not afraid of this punishment. They accept to pay the fine and retain projects. What do you think about this?

You have mentioned the current regulations. I think it’s necessary to set higher fines to better deter investors.

Resolution 18 has suggested a lot of new policies for the amendment of the Land Law. Could you please name the new policies?

The resolution shows orientations for the amended law compilers. One of the issues of great concern is the tax on land. In fact, the issue has been put forward for many years. But the Resolution shows some new points. For example, it suggests taxing on people who own a lot of real estate and exempting tax for the poor. This is more reasonable.

Another issue is the land contribution method and land readjustment in the case of gentrification.

For example, if a new urban area is developed on agricultural land, the State, instead of paying money to people whose land is being taken back, will compensate them with serviced land.

Kien Trung

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