[EDITORIALS]Odd focus for land policies

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[EDITORIALS]Odd focus for land policies

President Roh Moo-hyun said in a forum on housing policy on Tuesday that “it is hard to understand why the media keeps reporting housing issues related to less than 1 percent of the population as if those issues are more important than the housing issues affecting the whole population.” If so, we’d like to ask why Mr. Roh and the government spent so much time and energy trying to curb housing prices in Gangnam.
So far, Mr. Roh has consistently pledged that he will hold back housing price of Gangnam ― no matter what. Also, the government’s real estate policies have so far been heavily focused on curbing housing prices in Gangnam, by tightening housing taxes in the area and regulations on reconstruction projects there. And that is why the media coverage is heavily focused on such issues that the president and the government have been so immersed in.
Many of our editorials have demanded that the government spend more time and energy improving welfare-oriented housing policies for ordinary folks with no homes, and leave the rest to the market. But the government’s real estate measure package, one announced last August 31 and another on March 30 this year, despite having grand titles like “Stabilization of housing policy for ordinary people and rationalization of the housing market,” still focuses on curbing housing prices in Gangnam.
The policies to provide more rental-only public houses for low-income families and increase financial aid for renters do not seem to be in a prominent spot in overall policy packages.
If Mr. Roh, as he said in the forum, genuinely intends to focus his policy on stabilizing housing prices for low-income families, he may need to radically change his policy. He has to shift his attention from restriction-based policies aimed at curbing housing prices in specific areas to preparing a more welfare-oriented housing policy for low-income families.
Mr. Roh also expressed alarm over recent statistics about land price hikes, which was produced by the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, saying the civic group inflated the numbers in the data.
But it is a fact that the rising land prices have grown at their fastest pace since 1992 in the four years since Mr. Roh promised to relocate the nation’s capital during his presidential campaign. It would be rather strange if land prices didn’t rise if the whole country is excited about land development plans such as relocating the administrative capital, and developing innovative and corporate cities.

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