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Farmers to Take New Role in Law-making

Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources Wednesday pioneered among administrative authorities in China in soliciting public ideas, especially those from farmers, for drafting laws and regulations.

Starting today, the ministry will seek public ideas for drafting laws on land requisition and land-related compensation.

Within a month, people from all walks of life will be able to send E-mails to the address: weili@mail.mlr.gov.cn, or mail to the ministry, and land and natural resources departments at all levels across the country contributing their opinions, the ministry announced today.

Gan Zangcun, director of the Policy and Legislation Department with the ministry, said that this is the start of legislation reform. Government authorities are used to simply teaching farmers to be obedient to laws and regulations, rather than encouraging them to get involved in the lawmaking, he said.

He explained that drafting and making laws have either been conducted closed-door or exchanged ideas among different government departments, before they are promulgated.

The ministry has brought farmers directly into the legislation process in regards to drafting amendments to land requisition laws.

The ministry will hold related hearings this year to ensure solicited opinions be fully considered and reflected in the lawmaking, Gan said.

The official also noted that land-requisition law, in effect, has a lot of defects, which are left from the planned economic period. China's annual land requisition for construction purposes averages some 133,000 hectares. However, general compensation for those whose land is requisitioned is low. For example, in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province in south China, the compensation standard is about one-tenth of the local land price.

Malpractice and behind-the-scene dealings have led to corruption, which usually exacerbates public discontentment. Complaint letters and visits due to land disputes have accounted for 40 percent of the total local complaints received by the government.

However, it needs some courage for the administrative department to decide on soliciting public opinions on the amendment of land requisition law, because not only are opinions diverse, but also a lot of criticism will be received, said Gan.

The reform signifies a landmark in China's development of lawmaking, which will cater more to the interests of the common folks rather than for the convenience of the administrative departments, he stressed.

(Xinhua News Agency 06/20/2001)


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