Starting in September, owners of land expropriated by the government will be compensated at the market rate rather than the published value of the land, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday, an announcement that failed to appease opponents of the government-backed land seizures for development projects.
Following numerous demonstrations against land seizures around the country in recent years, the ministry proposed reforming the land expropriation system to change the basis on which land values are calculated from the published value — usually much lower than the real market value — to the market price.
“Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) has approved the proposal and it will take effect on Sept. 1,” Department of Land Administration Director Hsiao Fu-tao (蕭輔導) said.
“In future, if a government agency that needs a plot of land cannot reach an agreement on its value with the landowner, the market price will automatically become the basis for compensating the landowner,” Hsiao said.
Under the new system, the market value of a plot of land would be estimated by the local government and certified real-estate appraisers and after the value is approved by the local land value assessment commission, the county or city government will pay compensation accordingly, he said.
For those who would prefer land, they can apply for another plot of land in exchange, Hsiao added.
“The new system is better for landowners, because the published value is, on average, only 80 percent of the market value,” he said.
However, Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal chairman Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) questioned the legitimacy of land expropriation.
“The core issue is not the price, it is whether it is legitimate for the government to seize a plot of land for private developers,” Peng said. “Government taking over land for private developers or corporations is often the source of the problem in the most controversial land seizure cases.”
Peng also said that it was not fair for the landowner to calculate the market price of a plot of land based on its value before a development project.
“For example, the value of a plot of land classified ‘for farm use’ by the government is much lower than a plot of land categorized ‘for construction use,’” he said. “Under the new system, landowners would still be paid what the land is worth as farmland, while the developer can sell it as construction land.”