21 May 2010

Who will get land under the draft Transitional Land Law?

La'o Hamutuk has launched a new web page explaining who will get land under the draft transitional Land Law. We have also updated our pages on the Expropriation law (also Tetum) and Compensation for lost land.

Next week, Parliamentary Commission A will receive technical submissions on the draft transitional Land Law. The law will decide who owns and who does not own land. It will also outline key principles for how land will be managed in future. It is the first of several land-related laws currently being prepared, and has far-reaching implications for social justice, peace and economic development in Timor-Leste.

Although the draft law has had a lengthy consultation process, few people understand who will get land under its terms. Its complex rules make it hard to understand - and in future hard to implement. This complexity will make it easy to hide corrupt practices in awarding land, and it will be difficult for people to know and defend their rights.

The current draft allows the State to claim large areas of land - including land that it is not using and that others have an ownership claim to. The State does not have to use this land for public purposes, but can choose to rent it to companies or others. The draft Strategic Development Plan outlines the State's intentions to claim and manage 12,000 hectares of plantation lands, and another 10,000+ hectares for transmigration programs to rice growing areas. Tens of thousands of people depend on this land for daily needs such as food and housing. Traditional owners also have a claim to much of this land, which was stolen by previous regimes.

The web page includes a table that ranks rights to land from strongest to weakest, which explains who is likely to get land in disputed cases. It also lists major changes since the initial 12 June 2009 draft, and includes some of La'o Hamutuk's concerns with the current draft.

1 comment:

  1. Let’s just cut to the Heart of the Matter!. None of us created Land but it is something that we all need in order to secure the basic necessities of Life - Food and Materials for Clothing and Shelter. Indeed, Land is The Foundational Element for Individual Autonomy – Freedom – Liberty – Life. Every single creature in Nature freely finds a place for securing its basic needs. It is THE Inherent Law of Life. Although animals can be territorial we as Human Beings have the ability to morally follow the Golden Rule of do unto others as we would have them do unto us and thereby respect the space of others. The simple way to satisfy the equal distribution of Land ( Land Rights ) while maintaining the integrity of the infrastructure and the ecosystem and create an atmosphere of personal responsibility is to:

    1. Remove taxes of any kind.

    2. Move the current "value" of Land onto the Improvements.

    3. Remove Land from its distorted position as a commodity and return it to its Natural function as the Foundational Support for Life. As we are all First and Foremost Living Souls, Land used for securing the basic necessities of Life trumps the use of Land for commercial gain.

    4. Charge leases based on the current market value of all Land in use on a local (a county is small enough that local individuals can maintain the integrity of this system) level. Take 100% of the proceeds from the lease fees and redistribute them EQUALLY to every Man, Woman and Child in the form of a yearly Land Dividend payment. In this manner, the yearly Land Dividend payment is nearly equal to the lease fee on the average piece of Land (minus the payment to the children which can be placed into a trust fund for future home purchase). This allows each of us to be secure in Land and Home when we reach adulthood and opens up the Enormous World of possibility and opportunity.

    5. To maintain the infrastructure charge use fees which directly tie the use of the service, system or facility to the user. Roads for example can be funded either through a gas tax or when license plates are renewed or both. Funding of Libraries are paid by those who use the Library. Same with schools - use the school you pay, don't use the school you don't pay. All infrastructure costs are born by those who use it. Use fees create personal responsibility for the burdens we each place on society and those burdens are shouldered by those who demand/use them.

    6. Institute a Sales Tax (also on a local level) using the current SIC/NAICS coding system, which is already used to define industrial classification, as well using a modified bar code system that would contain detailed information on the resources used to produce each product. This tax can be applied at the checkout and used to directly encourage or discourage certain resource usage as well as for maintaining ecosystems. For example when the bar code is scanned and wood is part of the product a tax can be applied right at the checkout that in turn goes to funding the replanting of the forest. Both producers and consumers are responsible for the resources used. Supply and demand go hand in hand as you can't have one without the other. This creates personal responsibility for the resources we each choose to consume. Barter systems are already self regulating.

    I welcome your feedback.