Thu, Aug 25, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Ma vows to push for revisions to land legislation

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday announced that his administration would push for legislation and revision of laws on land expropriation, real-estate transaction prices and social housing projects to provide more protection for landowners and a more equitable use of land and housing to curb property hoarding.

Ma told a press conference at the Presidential Office that the Executive Yuan would pass a revision to the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and send it to the legislature for approval.

Under the proposals, local governments will evaluate land transaction prices of expropriated lands every six months, and compensation for landowners will be calculated according to market value rather than the published value of the land, which is often much lower than the market value.

Major solutions to curb unjust land seizures and housing prices include the establishment of a database of real-estate transaction prices to make the information transparent, taxation of unused land to prevent land speculation and housing legislation, he said.

“Our goal is to demonstrate the government’s determination to defend justice in land use and housing, as well as close the poverty gap. Any reforms will affect the rights of some groups, but in the long run, establishing a fair real-estate transaction system will benefit consumers, land developers and real-estate firms,” he said.

Ma’s comments came in the wake of a series of large-scale protests against government takeovers of land for use as industrial parks and other manufacturing facilities.

The legislation and amendment of legislation, as well as administrative measures were the first step in his administration’s efforts to pursue justice in land use, housing and taxation, he said.

The measures, including the taxation of vacant land and inspection of luxury apartment transactions, were aimed at eliminating speculation by land developers and real-estate companies, he said, promising that the government would not increase tax on self-owned residences.

Ma said the legal revisions would include a ban on expropriating any farmland unless it was for a social welfare project or major national development.

At a separate setting later in the day, Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said the proposed amendment aimed to provide better protection to landowners and to make it more difficult for government institutions to take over private land.

The purpose of adding more steps and requiring more cash compensation was to make local governments think twice before expropriating land, Jiang said.

“Many critics have said the land expropriation measure has been abused. Therefore, we are trying to make local governments spend more money on such transactions so they will think twice before making a decision to expropriate land,” he said. “Other measures, such as public hearings, will also make it more difficult to take over private land, so that forced expropriation would be the last option when trying to acquire land.”

Jiang said a real-estate market price database would be established once the legal revisions are finalized, and local governments will help collect information on real-estate prices.

Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin

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