» » Land Law stirs up debate

Reducing land clearance and compensation difficulties are key issues the draft amended Land Law focuses on.

In a conference held last week by Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Hanoi to gather opinions about the draft amended law, experts admitted land clearance difficulties were the main obstacle for many investment projects.

Nguyen Phuong Bac, deputy director of Bac Ninh province’s Planning and Investment Department, said to solve land clearance and compensation difficulties the benefits to all related sectors, investors, local people and the government, must be harmonised.

Bac said dramatic policy changes to clarify land prices in different areas, plans to implement projects which will use large agriculture areas, a working schedule of land clearance and compensation for every project and the cooperation between land and other related policies were needed. He said the lives of local residents must be considered when implementing large-scale projects which mobilize vast amount of land.

“Activities related to zoning of residential areas, setting up resettlement areas and public facility systems must be close to the master plan of those projects,” Bac said. Nguyen Dinh Cung, from Central Institute for Economic Management, said more clearance and compensation details should be presented to local residents to gather opinions.

“This policy should be created from the people, but not from the authorities,” Cung said.

In order to solve these obstacles, Deputy Minister of the Natural Resources and Environment Tran The Ngoc said that the draft amended law proposed the clause that allows investors to directly negotiate with land owners over land compensation and clearance be removed. Instead, the work would be undertaken by the State.

However, State and Law Institute expert Pham Huu Nghi said that this proposal should not be approved.

Nghi said the policy of reaching agreements between investors and local residents must be kept, because the residents have the right to negotiate with investors about their land.

Apart from land clearance obstacles, experts also proposed that the amended law should create more opportunities for investors to get land. “We propose that all efforts to reduce complicated procedures must be continued and specific research on this issue will be done in order to create a database system for the implementation,” Bac said.

Vu Quoc Tuan, chairman of the Vietnam Villages Association said small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have had few opportunities to grab land in the last five years. Tuan said the government had emphasised the important role of SMEs in the nation’s development, but there was still much discrimination between SMEs and state firms.

According to an association survey, most good locations were occupied by industrial zones offering high leasing prices which many enterprises could not afford. Tuan said the state should build industrial zones and re-lease space to SMEs at a lower price.

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