Amended Land Law 2024: A step towards social justice

WVR - Protecting the legitimate interests of the majority of land users is a highlight in the amended Land Law 2024.
Amended Land Law 2024: A step towards social justice
Amended Land Law 2024: A step towards social justice: According to Dr. Nguyen Van Dang, the amended Land Law 2024 is a step towards social justice. (Photo: WVR)

Land is a hot issue

On May 4, 2022, speaking at the opening of the fifth plenum of the 13th-tenure Party Central Committee, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong pointed out an undesirable reality in our country recently: "Many people got rich thanks to land, but there are also many people who are poor because of land... It is not a coincidence that in recent times, more than 70% of denunciations and complaints have belonged to land issues."

Indeed, the rapid increase in the value of land in our country in the last three decades has caused "a land fever". From urban to rural areas, a random observation shows that the number of people getting rich through land is increasing. Land investment and trading have become "hot" activities, having profound impacts, both positive and negative, on our country's economy.

During the land fevers, people involved being punished for violations in land management, or disputes and social tensions related to land are different manifestations of "land hot spots". Of course, a community or a country could not be able to stabilize and prosper if land hotspots continue to increase. It also means that in order to achieve sustainable prosperity, we must make policy adjustments to gradually reduce the land hotspots mentioned above.

Land hotspots, in various forms and levels, are a common phenomenon in transitioning economies and societies. The causes of land hotspots have originated from many factors, among which are the value and special spiritual significance of each piece of land, the incompleteness of land management institutions, and the shortcomings on rights and opportunities to access and use land.

However, on a global scale, researchers have pointed out that one key factor that can cause land hotspots to appear and increase is the mechanism and measures for distributing land-related benefits. Ensuring individual rights related to land and equal access to land will not be enough if the policy system also disregards the equitable distribution of benefits from land.

In our country, ensuring adequate benefits for land subjects is also identified as an important policy direction to reduce land dispute situations, which can lead to social tension. Resolution 18-NQ/TW on land management and use, issued in June 2022, pointed out inadequacies in land policies and institutions, not only causing land resources to not be effectively exploited, but also affects people's livelihoods.

Therefore, Resolution 18-NQ/TW/2022 continues to affirm the regime of ownership of land by the entire people in our country and clearly states the view: "land management and use must ensure the common interests of the entire people." Compared to Resolution 19-NQ/TW issued in 2012, Resolution 18-NQ/TW/2022 places more importance on the need to ensure satisfactory benefits for land-related parties when using the phrase "satisfactory harmonization of interests" and "social justice" with more frequency.

Appreciating "harmony of interests" means that land policy must balance legitimate interests, ensuring satisfactory benefits for relevant parties, specifically the State - Investors - People. Harmonious benefits mean that economic growth cannot be at the expense of businesses or people. The prosperity of one social group cannot come at the cost of livelihood difficulties or even poverty of other social groups.

Advances in social justice

Promoting "social justice" means the emphasis on sharing responsibilities and enjoying benefits from land. Accordingly, in addition to the goal of creating favorable conditions for investors to promote economic growth, land policies also need to attach importance to ensuring benefits for the most vulnerable groups. This also means that land policies cannot become a factor that creates an excessive gap between rich and poor, promoting the increase discontent about income and living standards between social groups.

The amended Land Law passed by the National Assembly in January 2024 has shown many new points, demonstrating efforts to promote social justice in the land sector in our country. The important issues that attracted public attention are the ability to prevent and combat speculation and falsely raising land prices, especially situations where the State can reclaim land, land price lists and how to calculate the value of land area acquired and compensated.

According to the Land Law 2024, land acquisition policy will be implemented more strictly. Article 79 stipulates 32 absolutely necessary cases in which the State acquires land to implement socio-economic development projects for the public benefit. The order and procedures for land acquisition are also more comprehensive, thereby increasing the objectivity, fairness, openness and transparency of the Government's land-related decisions.

Land acquisition for business and commercial development purposes always carries the potential risk of abuse of power, abuse of policies, and causes discontent among affected social groups. The amended Land Law in 2024 still allows the State to acquire land to deploy commercial housing projects, mixed housing projects and commercial and service businesses. However, to be able to acquire the land, the above projects need to serve the purpose of investing in and building urban areas, with mixed service functions.

Another step forward in the amended Land Law 2024 is new, more reasonable regulations on land price lists. Previously, the land price list in localities was valid for 5 years, which was said to not closely follow actual developments, leading to complications when applying for land users each time they receive compensation.

The Land Law 2024 stipulates that land price lists will be published annually and can be adjusted immediately within each year or year by year. Along with that, land price calculation can be applied using various methods such as comparison, collection, and land price adjustment coefficients. These adjustments have clearly shown the stance of protecting people's legitimate interests when land is acquired.

The process of amendments and policy adjustments which have made in the 2024 Land Law shows the diligence, attentive listening, and direct look at emerging issues from reality by policymakers. Therefore, the amended Land Law in 2024 is expected to better harmonize legitimate interests related to land.

The new regulations aim to minimize the risk of abusing land acquisition policies, mechanically applying compensation prices which could not reflect the actual market value of the acquisition land area, thereby protecting legitimate interests of the majority of land users is the highlight of the Land Law 2024. The above policy efforts, if implemented well, will be a step forward in implementing social justice in the field of land management, thus making a key contribution to the ability to reduce land hotspots in our country in the coming time.

* Dr. Nguyen Van Dang, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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