[EDITORIALS]Bad statistics hurt land policy

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[EDITORIALS]Bad statistics hurt land policy

The Blue House and some civic groups have reignited a debate on land ownership. As if waiting for the release of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs’ survey on nationwide land ownership, they proposed to introduce the public concept of land ownership. President Roh Moo-hyun has already given indirect support to the move by proclaiming, “I will fix real estate speculation at any cost.”
A series of moves, starting with the exposure of multiple house owners, which was followed by the publishing of details about large landowners and then the idea of introducing the public concept of land ownership, look like a well organized scenario for a drama.
That might be enough to convince people that a small number of multiple home owners and rich landowners have raised the prices of real estate by resorting to speculative investments habitually. President Roh has even said there would be no problem with the Korean economy if only real estate speculation was stopped.
But such moves only raise suspicion that the government is glossing over its policy failures by making “the haves” the target of indignation. Moreover, it becomes a serious problem if the statistics they quote are intentionally distorted.
The ministry’s statistics on land ownership seem to be exaggerated beyond imagination. First of all, the announcement that the top 1 percent of the population owns more than half of the nation’s privately owned land is meaningless. What is the use to compare the number of land owners with the whole population, including newly born babies?
Even more laughable is the statistic that the 100 largest land owners each possess a piece of land half the size of Yeouido in Seoul. Are they criminals, or is there proof that they speculated on land? We worry over impure intentions behind the announcement. We are also curious to know why the ministry didn’t announce the fact that the concentration of land ownership has eased this year compared to the situation in 1986.
If they intend to use these statistics as the basis to introduce the public concept of land ownership, we urge them to reconsider.
On this occasion, we think it also necessary to re-examine the intention and the logic behind the pledge that the government will establish “a real estate policy as difficult as to change as the Constitution.”
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