Land speculation may dwarf economic growth, say UN experts

If the government cannot curb land speculation, the economic development of Myanmar will underperform, according to UN experts at the second table discussion over land use policy on Monday in Yangon.

Robert Oberndorf, a resource law specialist from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) presented the collective opinions of various UN organisations. 

According to Oberndorf, land speculation will hinder Myanmar's economic growth because the policy on land taxation is unproductive and the laws on land ownership are incomplete and unclear. 

The laws do not mention mortgaging land for loan programmes, land monopolisation and alteration or guarantees of land access for low-income farmers, he said. 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation also advised that Myanmar's land policy should be free of discrimination and partiality and ought to contain all-inclusive and sustainable principles.

The first round of land use discussions took place from January 31 to February 1 this year in Nay Pyi Taw.

The second round received delegates from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Oxfam, the World Bank, USAID and local experts.

A committee for scrutinising land usage was established in June 2012 and the draft of the Myanmar Land Use Policy has progressed to its fifth edition. A national-level workshop was held in 2014, and the results were presented to the President.

The President approved the policy and publicised it by holding forums for community members in 17 states and regions from November 17-30, 2014, according to Kyaw Kyaw Lwin, the director of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.

A total of 909 suggestions were gathered from the forums and will be applied to the land use bill, said Aye Maung Sein, a member of the committee.