Institutional Reforms Will Strengthen Vietnam’s Land Management System, Improve Transparency and Control Corruption

November 5, 2012

Hanoi, November 5, 2012 - The World Bank in Vietnam today released its Policy Note “Revising the Land Law to Enable Sustainable Development in Vietnam”, during Vietnam’s National Assembly’s deliberations on changes to its Land Law, focusing on necessary reforms to address prevailing gaps and shortcomings. Several development partners including the UN are working together to prepare a joint policy note that reaffirms the same broad message.

“It is critical that revisions to the Land Law create a more favorable environment for more effective, equitable, and environmentally sustainable management of scarce land resources,” says Victoria Kwakwa, Country Director of the World Bank in Vietnam.

“Equitable treatment of all land users is essential for more inclusive growth and human development in Vietnam.  The revisions of the Land Law provide a key opportunity to ensure a fair balance between the interests of developers and farmers, and to promote greater transparency and accountability in Vietnam’s land governance” says Pratibha Mehta, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Vietnam. 

Land-related matters continue to dominate the complaints that the government receives, and corruption related to land matters is perceived to be widespread. The Note is expected to provide ideas on important institutional reforms to improve Vietnam’s land management system, to reduce the instability associated with land disputes, and to better control corruption.

This Note outlines reforms related to four main themes: agriculture land use, transparent and equitable land acquisition and compensation, land use rights of vulnerable groups, and land planning management.

Creating transparent and equitable land acquisition and compensation are key priorities for the revision of the Land Law. The Note argues that an efficient and transparent mechanism for setting the land compensation price when land is acquired involuntarily is a top priority, and there are good examples in Vietnam and these need to be adopted more systematically.

According to the Policy Note, the state needs to use its authority sparingly, limiting the use of compulsory land acquisition only to cases for the public’s benefit, giving land users more confidence in their rights related to land. It states that disputes are inevitable and that improving grievance redress mechanisms would reduce complaints, speed up project implementation and facilitate social stability.

Changes related to agricultural land use would enhance effectiveness of land use as well as secure farmers’ rights in land use, written the Policy Note.  Prolonging the duration of agricultural land tenure would give land users greater incentives to invest and care for the land.

It also argues that agricultural land efficiency would be improved if the law allowed greater land accumulation and more flexibility over agricultural land use purpose.  Accordingly, Vietnam’s food security objectives are largely met and the time has come to allow more flexibility over crop choice.

Revisions to the Land Law offer the opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen the land use rights of vulnerable groups, such as women, the poor and ethnic minority communities. The Note concludes that developing a more flexible and effective land management system, and improving transparency and reducing corruption in land management are all needed to make Vietnam’s land governance system worthy of a middle income country.

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