Tue, Apr 15, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Pilot zone land-seizure rules to be set amid critique

ACADEMIC ANTAGONISM:Professors challenged the government to protect private property as the National Development Council unveiled plans for ministry talks

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

The National Development Council (NDC) said yesterday that it and other government departments will discuss regulating future land seizures under the proposed free economic pilot zones within a week in a bid to better protect private property.

The pilot zones are set to be established near Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Pingtung Agricultural Biotechnology Park (屏東農業生技園區) and six major harbors.

Under the scheme, which is currently under review in the legislature, local governments are allowed to apply to the central government to set up new pilot zones when necessary, the council said.

If an application is approved by the Cabinet, local governments can acquire the necessary real estate through land seizures, the council said.

However, this window of opportunity may create leeway for local governments to acquire private land under insufficient supervision, Shieh Jyh-cherng (謝志誠), a former professor at National Taiwan University, said yesterday at a public hearing of a draft bill regarding the establishment of the pilot zones.

“Based on the proposed law, local governments could enjoy an expedited procedure for land seizures, when such practices are undertaken for an economic development project approved by the Cabinet,” Shieh said.

Shih Hsin University assistant professor Tsai Pei-hui (蔡培慧) said local governments usually acquire 700 hectares to 800 hectares of land a year from the private sector for public works, but for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis pilot zone project, the government plans to acquire as many as 3,600 hectares.

A lot more land would be expropriated by local governments if the draft were passed, she added.

National Chengchi University professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮), said the government has acquired many plots of land in the past for establishing industrial zones, but few of them are fully utilized.

The government should focus on developing land already at its disposal, rather than seeking new land from the private sector, he said.

Hua Ching-chun (花敬群), assistant professor at Takming University of Science and Technology, also raised concerns about the effects of land seizures.

He said that many private companies have government permission to own land in industrial zones, but have contributed to rising real-estate prices without developing the land for industrial purposes.

In response, council Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) said the intention of the draft is to utilize existing land in the public sector and that the council will confer with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to set necessary restrictions on land seizures under the pilot zones plan.

In related news, the council yesterday said it plans to build a center for startup businesses at the site of Zhongshan Soccer Stadium in Taipei, which was closed after renovations for the 2010 International Garden and Horticulture Exhibition.

The center will provide low-cost offices for startups, Kuan said.

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