The draft statute to promote innovative industries that has been hotly debated lately is essentially an extension of the tax incentives and industrial park development plan of the now-invalidated Statute for Upgrading Industry (促進產業升級條例). In addition to revenue losses due to the government’s constant submission to corporations, Article 10 of the draft statute, which deals with the establishment of industrial parks, is even more worrying. The article is basically an extension of Article 5 of the Statute for Upgrading Industry, which dealt with the establishment of industrial districts. If passed, the draft statute will create four major changes to the application process for setting up industrial parks.
First, anyone will be able to apply to set up an industrial park, be they central or local governments or a private individual. Second, the draft statute places no restrictions on land use. Applicants would be able to do as they please, including activities such as building banks and reclaiming land, practically creating their own kingdom. Third, the draft bypasses regulations in other laws such as the Land Act (土地法), Regional Planning Act (區域計畫法), Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法), National Property Act (國有財產法) and the act on handling public property. Lastly, the draft allows for the expropriation of private land and the sale of state-owned land.
Furthermore, the government ignores the high ratio of unused land, low occupancy rates and low plot ratios in existing industrial and science parks and refuses to consider how to make better use of this already-developed land. Instead, the government wastes land and resources by unnecessarily setting up new parks using large plots which will eventually take over all state-owned land.
It is very contradictory, then, that a draft of the National Land Plan is scheduled for review during the current legislative session. The principles and guidelines for national land plans are based on functional land zoning to provide a basis for the management and direction for the land’s proper use and conservation.
The government is thus planning a land plan law to protect land while, on the other hand, using the draft statute for industries to allow applicants to use industrial parks and state-owned land any way they want, essentially turning the former into a joke.
The draft statute allows those applying to set up industrial parks to take over agricultural and coastal land. Furthermore, problems with planning will continue to get worse under this draft and jeopardize attempts to secure land for agriculture, and safeguard our marine environment.
Local governments will also be given more power, making land speculation and the expropriation of large swathes of private land more certain. It is hard to say how much rural land would be expropriated, how rural society would disintegrate, how many farmers would lose their homes and how much land would become idle from this.
Finally, the draft statute highlights two major issues — the Statute for Upgrading Industry made the government serve big business for a long time. Even worse, after being in Taiwan for decades, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government still only serves this group and uses land resources and local factions to establish collaborative relationships with industries, refusing to be humble and identify with Taiwan.
The draft statute to promote innovative industries will have a severe impact and we cannot afford to sit around. We must stand up and take action together.
Liao Pen-chuan is an associate professor in the department of real estate and built environment at National Taipei University.
TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON
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