[EDITORIALS]Finally, land use reform

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[EDITORIALS]Finally, land use reform

The government announced its plan for the reform of land usage rules. The government will enforce the basic act on land use regulation in July next year to limit the creation of new special zones and districts that restrict land use, and simplify the complicated and overlapped regulations.
The current level of land usage regulation is too critical to delay mending it. In Korea, there are 298 zones and districts set up by 112 laws and administered by 13 ministries, and 181 out of the 298 areas are under restrictions. The regulations are so complicated that land owners cannot even know which laws or regulations are applied to their land.
Because of so many and so complicated regulations, the land supply has seldom increased although the demand for factories, roads and houses rose along with the population and the economy. Only 6 percent of the total national land is now available for development. Our national territory, small to begin with, is not being used efficiently because of the regulations. As a result, land became a subject of speculation and public complaints, and finally weakened business activity and national competitiveness.
In this sense, it is right that the government decided to change the land policies for the benefit of the users, the Korean people, instead of the suppliers. Such reforms should proceed at a much faster speed.
The government tried land use reform several times before, but whenever it tried, the plans petered out, because the central government and local municipal governments did not want to lose their power over lands.
This new plan also was issued far behind the original schedule that the government had set. The central government and local municipal governments should cooperate in the reform, giving up their selfishness.
That would help Korean people to buy houses at cheaper prices, help companies to build factories more easily and eventually help the Korean economy to develop more vigorously.
But the government should also take strong measures so that the regulatory relief will not lead to land speculation. The government should ease regulations that must be relaxed and tighten ones that need to be tightened.
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