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Official Pledges Tougher Land-use Controls
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The country is going to adopt the "toughest land management system" as an important part of its macroeconomic adjustment, a top land official said on Friday.

Addressing a work meeting, Sun Wensheng, minister of land and resources, called on his local subordinates nationwide to carry out their supervision and management work to protect the diminishing supply of farmland.

Sun said land management work was given a "new and higher requirement" during the Central Economic Work Conference held earlier this month.

"Paying attention to energy saving and reducing energy consumption, environmental protection and conservation of land is listed as one of the 10 problems the central government had stressed," he said.

Measures have been taken this year to tighten land-use management to curb excessive fixed-assets investment and rampant illegal land acquisitions.

"Some cities have already used up their planned land-use quota until 2010," said Li Yuan, vice-minister of land and resources .

Li said next year's quota of agricultural land for new construction must not exceed this year's level, which is projected to be 266,000 hectares. He said less land would go for industrial use and more for projects closely related to people's lives and ensure necessary fixed-assets construction.

A tough punishment system would be imposed to ensure that local officials strictly follow the plan, Li said.

Li said the ministry would strengthen the use of remote sensing and spot checks to monitor key cities for any violation in land expropriation.

The country also plans to allocate more than 100 billion yuan (US$12.5 billion) from its land-use proceeds to boost agricultural development in the next year.

The country collected 10.08 billion yuan (US$1.26 billion) from land-use fees for new construction projects from January to November this year, a year-on-year increase of 83 per cent.

And a regulation that came out last month will double the land-use fee for new construction starting from next year.

The money from the fee, which originally belonged to the local governments, will now be split, 30 per cent to the central government and 70 per cent to the provincial treasury. That move was an attempt to cool off local officials' fever to sell land by reducing the profits they could earn.

(Xinhua News Agency December 23, 2006)

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