Cabi­net aims to de­lay farm­house draft

Halt comes af­ter pres­sure from both sides of po­lit­i­cal aisle


Coun­cil of Agri­cul­ture (COA,

) Min­is­ter Chen Bao-ji ( ) ex­pressed shock on Wed­nes­day af­ter learn­ing that draft amend­ments to the Reg­u­la­tions Gov­ern­ing Agri­cul­tural Dwelling Houses (

) would be de­layed af­ter law­mak­ers from both par­ties ex­erted pres­sure on Cabi­net-level of­fi­cials.

Ac­cord­ing to Chen, Kuom­intang (KMT) Leg­is­la­tor Chen Chao-ming ( ) had ap­proached Cabi­net Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Chien Tai-lang ( ) to ne­go­ti­ate the amend­ments when Chien re­sponded to the law­maker that the bill would not be pur­sued. When the COA head tried to con­firm the ac­count with Chien, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral said that the pro­posal had to be de­layed due to stri­dent op­po­si­tion.

Un­der the pro­posed amend­ments, the def­i­ni­tion of farm­ers would be re­stricted to peo­ple who en­rolled in the third cat­e­gory of the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance, which is des­ig­nated for farm­ers, fish­er­men and ir­ri­ga­tion as­so­ci­a­tions; or peo­ple who buy farm­ers’ in­sur­ance, or peo­ple who ac­tu­ally en­gage in farm ac­tiv­i­ties. Own­er­ship, con­struc­tion and sale of the much dis­puted farm dwellings would be limited to the above legal def­i­ni­tion of farmer.

Agri­cul­tural Land Should Rise in

Value: KMT Law­mak­ers

Op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed amend­ment came in vary­ing de­grees, with KMT Leg­is­la­tor Liao Cheng-ching ( ) stat­ing that the gov­ern­ment needed to come up with sup­port­ing mea­sures, im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion with farm­ers and en­sure that changes would not cause detri­men­tal fluc­tu­a­tions in agri­cul­tural land prices. Leg­is­la­tor Chen pointed to a dis­crep­ancy in val­ues be­tween ur­ban and agri­cul­tural prop­erty, ar­gu­ing that farm­ers should not get the short end of the stick when it came to prop­erty im­prove­ments and po­ten­tial in­creases in land value.

Amend­ments Do Not Ad­dress Real Prob­lems: DPP Law­mak­ers

Mean­while, the amend­ments to the law also faced op­po­si­tion from the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) and its law­mak­ers. Leg­is­la­tor Su Chen-chin ( ) ar­gued that the gov­ern­ment at­tempts to bar non­farm­ers from buy­ing agri­cul­tural dwellings was work­ing in the wrong pol­icy di­rec­tion. Su said that re­stric­tions on sales and pur­chases could cause mar­ket freezes which would in­crease hard­ship for farm­ers re­quir­ing loans to pur­chase farm equip­ment.

An aide to Leg­is­la­tor Chen Ming­wen ( ) said that the gov­ern­ment’s pro­pos­als were mainly in re­ac­tion to the scope of the agri­cul­tural dwelling prob­lem in the most se­ri­ous area, Yi­lan County, and that the gov­ern­ment should not use the county as the ex­am­ple for the rest of the is­land. How­ever, Leg­is­la­tor Tien Chiu-chin ( ) said that the amend­ments could be sup­ported with re­gard to land us­age, cit­ing that con­ver­sion of land af­ter pur­chase to nona­gri­cul­tural use would go against is­sues of fair­ness.

In re­sponse to re­ports of gov­ern­ment vac­il­la­tion and con­tin­u­a­tion of land spec­u­la­tion, some farm­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions have threat­ened to gather for street protests link­ing the whole is­land.

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