Parliamentary commission advises overhaul of national land use policy
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