In response to the protests and negative news coverage of the various land seizures going on around the nation, particularly the ugly mess of the Central Taiwan Science Park (see here and here and here and an old view of the CTSP's pollution issues), the Ma Administration announced a major land legislation the other day (TT):
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday announced that his administration would push for legislation and revision of laws on land expropriation, real-estate transaction prices and social housing projects to provide more protection for landowners and a more equitable use of land and housing to curb property hoarding.Sounds great, eh? Low assessed land values are a key driver of the regional inequalities that shape Taiwan's local politics, as I noted in this long and informative post on a Commonwealth magazine piece. It says:
Ma told a press conference at the Presidential Office that the Executive Yuan would pass a revision to the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and send it to the legislature for approval.
Under the proposals, local governments will evaluate land transaction prices of expropriated lands every six months, and compensation for landowners will be calculated according to market value rather than the published value of the land, which is often much lower than the market value.
Major solutions to curb unjust land seizures and housing prices include the establishment of a database of real-estate transaction prices to make the information transparent, taxation of unused land to prevent land speculation and housing legislation, he said.
Taiwan's houses also have two prices -- the actual market price and a "standard unit price for housing construction" set by the tax revenue offices of each local government for residential units under their jurisdiction. This publicly assessed price has not been adjusted for 27 years. Legislator Lai Shyh-bao estimates that the current "standard unit price" is roughly only one-fifth of the actual market value.You can see that by keeping the publicly assessed prices low, land speculators can make enormous profits and local governments can grab land at low prices. A database and revisions to the laws would help a lot.
Today some of the proposals were presented in the Taipei Times.
However, a long list of exception are to be made in the case of use by the military, transportation, public utilities, irrigation, sanitation and environmental protection or major construction projects approved by the Executive Yuan, Jiang said.The current environmental impact assessment system is largely toothless; to date no project has been stopped by its EIA and there are few provisions for oversight of changes in a project mandated by an EIA. It is simply pro forma. Hard to believe that the assessment mandated above will be much different.
If the legislature passes the bill, land developers would be required to evaluate how their projects would impact an area in terms of economics, social-cultural effects, bio-diversity and the environment before a comprehensive assessment could be made as to whether a project is necessary and whether it brings with it countervailing public benefits.
The bill would also require that land developers negotiate prices with land owners facing expropriation based on market price, thereby addressing one of the major criticisms at present, that -government-declared valuations have been too low.
Also note the exception: projects approved by the Executive Yuan. The Central Taiwan Science Park, one of the major causes of the land expropriation protests, is an Executive Yuan project run by the National Science Council (NSC). The legislation pointedly ignores the major problem it is meant to address. Business as usual.
Still, some of the proposed changes, including set-asides for lower income families and farmers, seem to mean well. The question is how they will work in reality. The China Post has a very detailed report on how the reform to report market prices for homes is going to work.
- Dean Cheng at Heritage points out the inconsistency of the Administration's position on Taiwan arms: it acknowledges the threat to Taiwan but does nothing about it.
- An Author road bike was stolen from a car. Please contact Drew if you see it.
- Thinking about a car for your bikes? Drew also has a post on his Honda Fit.
- Dear AP: The DPP does not "oppose expanded China ties." It opposes selling out Taiwan to obtain such ties. You waste all those words explaining Taiwan's relation to China incorrectly; the least you could do is explain the DPP's position correctly.
- Chen Shui-bian found not guilty in embezzlement case.
- The Journalist with 2012 election poll: Shows the same gap, Ma over Tsai at +5 that most polls show, and another phenomenon other polls have shown: with Soong in as Presidential candidate, Tsai's support drops, relatively speaking.
- Thought I'd add this: just as Taiwan's demand for gravel has caused environmental problems all over Asia, so with Singapore and sand. The parallels, including the rapacious developers, are there.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.