Fri, Aug 17, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Ministry mulls lifting ban on state-owned land sales

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Finance is considering lifting a ban on sales of small state-owned plots of land in Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市), as the government aims to maintain a sufficient supply of land to ease unreasonably high real-estate prices and fill the state’s coffers.

The Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday that Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) has asked the National Property Administration to review the pros and cons of lifting the sales ban on plots of land measuring less than 500 ping (1,653m2).

The ministry has banned the sale of such lands since March 2010 amid growing concerns that the sales could aggravate rampant property speculation in the Greater Taipei area and cause price gouging among construction firms.

In December last year, the legislature amended an act that expanded the sales ban to cover plots of land larger than 500 ping.

However, Chang said the government’s ban may also be a factor behind house prices in Taipei and New Taipei City remaining at a high level, because the supply of state-owned land failed to meet strong demand.

Lifting the ban would also help the government raise more funds, he said.

“We are collecting data and opinions,” a section chief at the administration surnamed Wang (王) said yesterday.

Wang refused to say when the administration would finish the evaluation, but he did confirm that the administration would continue to auction long-term leases for plots of land.

Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a land economics professor at National Chengchi University, said the ministry should not lift the ban, because house prices remain high and lifting the ban would only increase speculation.

“The finance minister’s views are inappropriate,” Chang Chin-oh said by telephone yesterday.

Chang Chin-oh said the excessive number of auctions of state-owned land — which could drive up property speculation — remained the major concern should the ministry lift the ban.

Meanwhile, lifting the ban would not significantly boost the nation’s finances, he added.

Construction firms said lifting the ban would put the balance between supply and demand in the housing market back on track, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported yesterday.

Tsai Chung-i (蔡宗易), vice president of Farglory Group (遠雄集團), owner of Farglory Land, said the lack of a supply of land had indeed been driving up real-estate prices.

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