Local leaders told to take lead on halting illegal acquisitions

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-13 07:02

National authorities Thursday urged local governments to deal more firmly with cases of illegal land acquisitions.

The move comes at a time when such cases are becoming increasingly common.

A joint statement released by the Ministry of Supervision (MOS) and Ministry of Land and Resources said local government leaders should take the lead in protecting arable land.

"The work to crack down on illegal land acquisition cases should be put at the top of the agenda," the statement said.

The fast pace of economic development and the burgeoning property market have made land deals a lucrative prospect.

The soaring land prices are filling local coffers and spurring further cases of illegal land acquisition.

Land and Resources Minister Xu Shaoshi said yesterday that China must do everything it can to ensure that its arable land bank remains above the 120 million hectares red line.

"Like a high voltage line, it should never be touched," he said.

"Anyone encroaching upon arable land illegally will be dealt with harshly."

The statement ordered local leaders to "waste no time" in "firmly supporting" the work of local supervision and land and resources officials.

It also asked them to "bravely" shoulder the main responsibility in "actively" addressing such problems at the local level.

Local supervision and land and resources officials have been ordered to "review" the cases found before last October and to "concentrate strength" to ferret out more, it said.

Evidence of concealed deals of ineffective work will trigger an accountability mechanism, under which local leaders will be held accountable for malfeasance.

Local supervision and land and resources departments will file monthly reports on the issue.

(China Daily 07/13/2007 page4)

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