12/20/2013, 00.00
VIETNAM

World Bank and Vietnamese Church against forced expropriations: they halt development

Social tensions arising from land disputes drive away foreign investors and diminish growth. Expected development index lowest since 1999. In three years, more than 700 thousand disputes put dozens of infrastructure projects at risk. Bishops' Conference : Constitutional amendments are needed to protect ownership of property. UN official in support of the Catholics of Con Dau .

Hanoi ( AsiaNews) - The age-old question of land ownership in Vietnam, due to repeated abuse and forced evictions to the detriment of the individual and the community, is not only a legal and constitutional issue, but represents an obstacle to the economic development of the country. Social tensions arising from land disputes - a battle that saw the Bishops' Conference fighting for the people - are likely to ward off foreign investors and tarnish growth targets . The warning comes not only from activists and organizations for the protection of human rights, but from experts from the World Bank analysis institute based in Washington, who speak of possible " social unrest " triggered by the forced requisition of land for construction projects or industrial activities. Moreover it confirms the fears of economists: in 2012 there was the growth rate lowest in the last 13 years.

Victoria Kwakwa , national director of the World Bank in Vietnam , said that " the inability to resolve disputes on land issues," could worsen the " inequality " because many are likely to " lose the use of land without adequate compensation ." And this, in turn, "would lead to social unrest". The analyst also speaks of "missed opportunities" in investments, which are necessary to "create jobs and promote a rapid growth of Vietnam". None of these realities she adds "are ideal " for the country .

The official government forecasts for the economy confirm the seriousness of the problem. In 2013 growth was around 5.4%, but will drop to 5.25 % next year, this is the lowest figure recorded since 1999. In just three years about 700 thousand disputes over land have been registered , most of which concern compensation claims. Data from the World Bank shows that from 2001 to 2010 about one million hectares of agricultural land has been converted for other purposes , however , disputes on land ownership have blocked or delayed many of the 80 infrastructure projects financed by the Bank Asian development ( ADB) for at least two years, for a total of $ 9 billion .

Contractors, builders and investors still prefer to keep projects and construction sites, because the risk of non-productivity is strong and the legal disputes end up delaying projects, with an exponential growth in costs. In addition, the Politburo of the Communist Party in November last admitted an increase in "corruption," which combined the widespread practice of "backroom negotiation " and illegal trafficking by executives and officials who "abuse of position for bribes and illegal profits " .

Hanoi is trying to run for cover and, last November  passed a law aimed at limiting the land disputes, which transform into farmers angry into folk heroes . The law will come into force in July 2014, and states that the government can not seize land, as is happening now, under the guise of "economic development ." Forced requisition can only be justified in the "general" socio-economic interest.

 

 

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