Par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion ad­vises over­haul of na­tional land use pol­icy

The Myanmar Times - - News - Thanhtoo@mm­times.com HTOO THANT

THE Na­tional Land Use Pol­icy is in line for re­dress, af­ter be­ing high­lighted by a par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion charged with tar­get­ing leg­is­la­tion for re­form.

In its cur­rent form, the pol­icy only cov­ers farm­land – some­thing the Com­mis­sion for the As­sess­ment of Le­gal Af­fairs and Spe­cial Is­sues says falls short. The cur­rent doc­u­ment was for­mu­lated un­der U Thein Sein’s gov­ern­ment.

“The Na­tional Land Use Pol­icy can­not en­com­pass all kinds of gov­ern­ment-owned land, nat­u­ral re­sources use and land man­age­ment,” deputy chair of the com­mis­sion U Than Win told par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

“The pol­icy needs to [cover] land use and land man­age­ment, in­clud­ing vil­lage land, pas­ture, land al­lot­ted for re­li­gious pur­poses, res­i­den­tial, eco­nomic zones, mil­i­tary ar­eas, cul­tural her­itage sites, in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion, of­fices, in­dus­trial zones, and spe­cial eco­nomic zones,” he added.

The com­mis­sion, headed by for­mer Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann, sug­gested that if the gov­ern­ment is to have the au­thor­ity to con­fis­cate and man­age land in the event it is deemed nec­es­sary for the sake of na­tion and its cit­i­zens, this should be stated ex­plic­itly in the pol­icy.

With land prices at an all-time high, the com­mis­sion sug­gested com­pen­sa­tion needs to be in line with mar­ket prices – but also not so high as to price out in­vestors.

The com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended that the pol­icy needs to be brought into line with in­ter­na­tional norms and stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures, in or­der to re­flect the po­lit­i­cal changes Myan­mar has un­der­gone and bring the coun­try up-to-speed with its neigh­bours. The com­mis­sion sug­gested five points to be re­moved, and six to be re­vised.

The com­po­nents high­lighted for clar­i­fi­ca­tion are the use of land by the state in the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple, cit­i­zens’ rights to own or use land, su­per­vi­sion of state-owned land re­sources, the preser­va­tion of state land, tres­pass, and the cor­rect pro­ce­dure for seiz­ing and man­age­ment of land by the state.

In a sur­vey con­ducted be­fore the Novem­ber 2015 elec­tion by the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion for Hu­man Rights (FIDH), a ma­jor­ity of polled po­lit­i­cals par­ties said ad­dress­ing land grab­sneeds to be at the top of the next gov­ern­ment’s agenda.

The Na­tional League for Democ­racy had made the is­sue a rallying point dur­ing the cam­paign pe­riod, and af­ter tak­ing up of­fice, in­structed all re­gion and state of­fices to com­pile lists of land grab cases and be­gin to re­solve them as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity.

Some po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts sug­gested that the NLD’s sup­port for farm­ers en­meshed in land dis­putes – es­pe­cially in re­gions like Magwe and Man­dalay – trans­lated into a groundswell of sup­port and a heart­land that washed red af­ter the vote.

The sub­mis­sion on the na­tional land use po­lice will be for­warded to the Union gov­ern­ment for con­sid­er­a­tion, Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than told MPs yes­ter­day. – Trans­la­tion by San Layy and

Khine Thazin Han

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