The cabinet yesterday announced a string of measures to rein in rampant
illegal land use, restrict the transfer of farmland for construction, and
prevent the overheating of the economy.
According to the State Council notice:
The onus on scrutiny of land use lies with the provincial governments, which
will submit cases to the State Council for approval on an annual basis, instead
of case by case now.
Local leaders will be penalized if they fail to stop or investigate illegal
land sale cases. Officials who violate land supply rules face disciplinary
action and prosecution.
To stop local governments from giving land to investors free or at throwaway
prices, the central government will set a minimum price, which will vary
according to what it is used for.
Officials who sell land at prices lower than the minimum will be prosecuted.
The government will raise taxes from investors for the use of land, which
will be used for the protection and development of farmland.
There will be a ban of leasing land from farmers for construction purposes, a
back-door tactic increasingly used by some local governments and investors to
dodge taxes on land sales and approvals by higher authorities.
To protect the interests of farmers, revenues from farmland sales must first
be used to pay for their resettlement and compensation for crops.
If the sale price of any piece of land is not enough to cover the cost of
resettling farmers, local governments must pay from their land sale revenues.
Local governments should ensure that farmers who have lost their land are
properly trained for new jobs and provided with means to make a livelihood.
Land sale revenues must be incorporated into local budgets so that they can
be scrutinized by higher authorities a major departure from the current practice
where local governments have total freedom to spend the money as extra-budget
Zhang Xinbao, a senior official with the Ministry of Land and Resources, said
reining in local governments is a major target of the new policy, as "they are
actually behind almost all the major cases of illegal land use."
Land sale revenues have become a major source of income for many local
governments, Zhang said.
"The new policies are more 'concrete' and 'operational' than ever," said Yan
Jinming, a professor with Renmin University of China.
The Ministry of Supervision, in collaboration with the Ministry of Land and
Resources and other central departments, will soon launch a nationwide crackdown
on irregularities in land supply.
China's economy grew 10.9 per cent in the first half of this year on the back
of a 30-per cent growth in fixed asset investment, both the highest in recent
In a bid to prevent a possible overheating of the economy, the central bank
twice raised the benchmark interest rate this year and the government has
clamped down on unauthorized investment projects.
The government believes that illegal land supply is a leading cause of
A survey of 16 cities by the Ministry of Land and Resources last year showed
that nearly 50 per cent of new land under development was acquired illegally.
The figure was as high as 90 per cent in some cities.
Xinhua - China Daily
(China Daily 09/06/2006 page1)