Land disputes stir NA debate

November 13, 2012 | 10:14
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The topics of land management and land-related corruption were hotly debated in groups at the National Assembly meeting last week.

A majority of the deputies suggested the government  soon complete legal reforms on land related issues, especially the amended land law which must be in compliance with the current development situation of the country.

The amended land law, according to Nguyen Thu Anh, National Assembly deputy from Lam Dong province, must avoid overlapping with other legal documents such as guidelines, directives and decrees.

Anh added that stricter management and clearer fines must be mapped out to encourage a transparent  performance by local authorities and State staff who are working in land management.

Meanwhile, deputy Tran Van Tan from Tien Giang province said that roles of social organisations such as the Vietnamese Farmer Association, the Vietnamese Veterans Association and the Vietnamese Lawyers Association must be highlighted in solving petitions and disputes on land issues. “In order to solve the current situation, I think that it needs both two sides: the policy system outline and the implementation of this system from the local authorities.

“Only the policies which are in line with the people’s thoughts and benefit could reduce the current high petitions,” Tan said.

Petitions and corruption in land-related issues have been raised as one of the hottest issues which the amended land law aims to address.

According to a report of the government, from 2008 to 2011, around 500,000 petition cases were reported. Main issues related to land petition was administrative procedures in land retrieving, land clearance and compensation.

The World Bank in Vietnam last week also released its Policy Note “Revising the Land Law to Enable Sustainable Development in Vietnam,” during Vietnam’s National Assembly’s deliberations on changes to its Land Law, focusing on necessary reforms to address prevailing gaps and shortcomings.

 “It is critical that revisions to the Land Law create a more favourable environment for more effective, equitable, and environmentally sustainable management of scarce land resources,” says Victoria Kwakwa, country director of the World Bank in Vietnam.

Pratibha Mehta, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Vietnam, said that equitable treatment of all land users is essential for more inclusive growth and human development in Vietnam.  

“The revisions of the Land Law provide a key opportunity to ensure a fair balance between the interests of developers and farmers, and to promote greater transparency and accountability in Vietnam’s land governance,” said Mehta.

The Note is expected to provide ideas on important institutional reforms to improve Vietnam’s land management system, to reduce the instability associated with land disputes, and to better control corruption.

It also outlines reforms related to four main themes: agriculture land use, transparent and equitable land acquisition and compensation, land use rights of vulnerable groups, and land planning management.

The Note argues that an efficient and transparent mechanism for setting the land compensation price when land is acquired involuntarily is a top priority, and there are good examples in Vietnam and these needs to be adopted more systematically.

According to the Note, the State needs to use its authority sparingly, limiting the use of compulsory land acquisition only to cases for the public’s benefit, giving land users more confidence in their rights related to land.

By Ngoc Anh

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