Đặng Hùng Võ, former deputy minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, talks with Diễn Đàn Doanh Nghiệp (Business Forum) newspaper about the need to revise the 2013 Land Law.
Do you think that a delay in revising Land Law has led to many pending projects not being dealt with for a long time?
Yes, I think so. According to the 2003 Land Law, projects that have been granted land but their construction remains stagnant after 12 months or their progress is not on track after 24 months are considered pending. The State will authorise land acquisition while returning the amount of investment on the land to the project’s investor.
Regarding the 2013 Land Law, investors may apply for an extension of 24 months to develop the project. If nothing improves after that time, the land and assets attached to the land are subjected to be withdrawn.
However, the withdrawal of assets violates the 2013 Constitution stipulating that the State has the responsibility to protect the assets of investors.
Overlapping legal documents also make it difficult to solve pending projects.
Will the amendment of the Land Law help reduce land disputes and petitions relating to land which have become complex?
The source of administrative complaints and lawsuits in court regarding decisions in the field of land comes from the State’s mechanism of land acquisition for socio-economic development, national and public interests.
Public interest is clearly defined in the 2013 Land Law – it is the development of public infrastructure projects. Unfortunately, the concept of “national interest” is not defined in the 2013 Land Law, so people understand it differently. Those who have their land withdrawn by the State do not want to lose their land-use rights, so they complain.
The amendment of the law to reduce complaints and denunciations must ensure two conditions. Firstly, the law’s provisions must be clear, specific and simple. Secondly, there should be no inequality in reaping benefits from investment on land.
The current land disputes are still complicated, but mainly due to the legacy from the subsidy economy when land prices were cheap and there was no land data. Now, the population is growing and land prices are higher so disputes arise. To minimise land disputes, it is necessary to rely on law enforcement solutions suitable to each situation.
What issues should the Government focus on while revising the Land Law?
Firstly, it is necessary to review the content of the 2013 Land Law that is inconsistent with the 2014 Housing Law, the 2014 Real Estate Business Law, the 2014 Construction Law, the 2014 Investment Law, the 2014 Public Investment Law, the 2017 Forest Law, 2017 Planning Law and the 2017 Law on Management and Use of State Property to ensure the harmony of the legal system.
For example, the 2014 Housing Law allows foreigners to own houses and lease houses in Việt Nam. This provision is an important content in the implementation of two new-generation free trade agreements, the European Việt Nam Free Trade Area and Comprehensive and Progress Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. According to the 2013 Land Law, foreigners do not yet have land-use rights.
Secondly, there is ambiguity in regulations relating to land conversion, settlement of pending projects and extending of land use, causing difficulty for law enforcement.
Thirdly, the land financing system including land prices, land use fees, land rental fees and land taxes has been renovated in the 2013 Land Law, but is still not in line with laws of the market, causing both the State and land users to suffer.
Will the Land Law revision affect the real estate market?
Land currently allocated to a project may be subject to different purposes.
There are new types of real estate in the market such as condotel, officetel and shophouse while the 2013 Land Law has no specific provisions on the land-use regime for such multi-purpose products. This is the main reason why the tourism accommodation segment has hit a standstill.
Thus, if the Land Law is revised correctly, the bottleneck will be removed and the real estate market will develop well. — VNS
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