This article aims to introduce to readers the panorama of Vietnam’s Land Law and analyze seven problems in the current Land Law.
Reviewing the process to reform land policies in Vietnam:
Prior to 2013, the new Land Law must be ratified by the National Assembly, because 2013 is the deadline for the State to make decision on the agricultural land that was allocated free of charge for farmers for 20 years, since October 1993.
Many policies and regulations on land must be amended to be appropriate to the market’s development and international integration. The economic-political theory on land needs to be consistent with the socialist orientation and to fit with the reality. Land-related relations and land management system must be transparent. The new land law is a must because the public opinion always considers that land management related corruption and land speculation is very serious, which has contributed to the current inflation.
The Doi Moi (renovation) policy was launched in 1986, based on the principle of accepting the market-oriented economy with the State’s management and five economic sectors. The breakthrough of the Doi Moi policy is the amendment to the land law: allocating agricultural land of agricultural cooperatives to households for long-term using for free. The Land Law has been reformed gradually, at the lower pace than economic renovation.
The timeline of amendment to the land law:
December 1980: The National Assembly approved the people’s ownership of land.
January 1981: The Central Party Committee’s Secretariat issued Instruction 100 on paying workers and groups of workers by the job.
December 1986: The 6th Party Congress reviewed weaknesses and decided to implement the Doi Moi policy.
December 1987: The National Assembly ratified the Land Law to institutionalize the mechanism, in which the State allocates land to farmers for free; to make official some land management tools in the principle that the State subsidizes land entirely, land users only have the right to use and benefit from allocated land, land has no value and price; the State takes back land to allocate to investment projects and investors have to pay compensation to land users. The National Assembly also ratified the Law on Foreign Investment in Vietnam to attract foreign direct investment.
April 1988: The Politburo approved Resolution 10 on allocating land to households.
April 1991: The National Assembly approved the Law on Company and Law on Private Enterprises in order to encourage the development of non-State economic sector.
July 1993: The National Assembly ratified the Land Law to institutionalize the mechanism, in which the State gives the five rights: transferring, exchanging, inheriting, leasing and mortgaging agricultural, housing and non-agricultural land to individuals and families in order to develop agricultural commodity economy; businesses can only hire land from the State in fixed period of time; land prices are fixed by the State; the State can revoke land to allocate to projects and project investors have to pay compensation to land users.
July 1994: The National Assembly ratified the Law on Encouragement of Domestic Investment. The Party Central Committee approved the Resolution on developing industry and technology towards industrialization and modernization to 2000 and building the working class in the new period.
December 1998: The National Assembly approved the Amended Land Law in a bid to expand the rights of re-leasing land in industrial zones, to use land as capital and guarantee for loans; domestic investors can hired land from the State, paying land fees once and have rights to make land-related transactions (transfer, lease, re-lease in industrial zones, mortgage, guarantee, contribute land as capital), receive the land use right transfer from families, individuals and are allocated by the State to implement housing, industrial zone and land-for-facilities projects.
June 2001: The National Assembly approved the Amended Land Law to give more power to district-level authorities in granting land use right certificates.
March 2003: The National Assembly ratified the Land Law 2003, with the following new features: 1) The entire people’s ownership of land is concretized in the form of specific regulations on the rights and duties of state agencies over land, the rights and duties of land user over land; 2) specific rules on solving historical matters of land; 3) the State’s land prices must be suitable to the market prices in normal conditions; 4) economic organizations that have the land use right as assets are permitted to conduct land-related transactions in the market; 5) creating further equality on the rights and duties over land between domestic and foreign investors; 6) the State’s rights to revoke land is restricted; 7) issuing specific regulations on land compensation, conditions for resettlement projects for the cases that resettlement is compulsory; 8) setting up a complete system on administrative procedures; 9) enhancing the supervisory role of the people over the implementation of the land law; 10) finalizing the mechanism on settling complaints on land.
November 2005: The National Assembly approved the unified Enterprise Law and the unified Investment Law.
The renovation of Vietnam’s policies on land has passed a positive but prudent process. Before 2003, the law and ordinance on land were amended each 2.5 years on average. After that, the decrees on land compensation, allowances, and resettlement were amended each two years. The unification of the system for registration of land use right and land-related assets took 15 years of discussion.
After nearly ten years implementing the Land Law 2003, the following conclusions are summarized:
1. Some expected points of renovation will be further researched and added to the next amended Land Law.
2. The expansion of rights for investors connecting to the policy that the State allocates land, lease land to businesses to develop the real estate market has caused some hindrances for preventing land speculation, the unfair of land use policy between domestic and foreign investors.
3. Land planning is not effective for land management.
4. Problems association with managing land prices still exist in many provinces, facilitating corruption in allocating land to appointed investors.
5. The mechanism on State’s revoke of land and investors pay land compensation to land users shows problems that need to be fixed.
6. Renovations on the mechanism to settle complaints on land do not help to curb land-related lawsuits.
7. Decentralization of land management right to provincial and district governments cause controversies. It is said that the central government needs to revoke some rights and strengthen supervision over the implementation of the Land Law in provinces.
The National Assembly has agreed to compile the new Land Law, which will be approved by 2013. The government is working on the draft land law.
The compilation of the new Lad Law is interested by many international organizations, ministries, sectors, local governments, businessmen and the people. There are disinterested and self-seeking interests. The renovation, therefore, must be prudent but have long vision.
Dang Hung Vo