Change of land quota system pumps capital into poverty eradication effort
The central government will guarantee funds needed for an ambitious rural vitalization campaign through direct investment and preferential policies to help raise capital, senior officials said.
While raising public finance inputs, more of the revenue the government gets from land transactions will be spent in rural China, Han Jun, chief of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, said on Monday in Beijing.
His comments came a day after the central government released a package of policies referred to as the No 1 Central Document of the year, which charts a road map for rural vitalization.
The document sets objectives for lifting all rural residents out of poverty by 2020 and bringing into reality a "basic modernization of agriculture and rural areas" by 2035 and a "comprehensive rural vitalization" by 2050.
"For a long time, a very low proportion of land transaction revenue was used for rural development," Han said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office. "We will innovate the policy procedure and cut more from the 'cake' of land transactions and give them to rural areas to facilitate the poverty-relief campaign and rural vitalization."
The government will also promote the development of high-standard farmland and trans-provincial purchasing and selling of quotas for construction-use land. The gains from the two projects will all be used to help eradicate poverty and realize rural vitalization, Han said.
China now utilizes a quota system for land use to curb the increase of construction land and the decrease of farmland. Local governments can get quotas for certain plot sizes for construction use if the same size of construction land in its jurisdiction is reclaimed.
Previously, the quota could only be bought and sold among different counties within each provincial region. Jinzhai county in Anhui province, for example, once reclaimed about 670 hectares in construction-use land after relocating some of its poverty-stricken population to more livable areas. The county sold its quota to Anhui's capital Hefei at a price of 5 billion yuan ($795 million), Han said.
The quota will be allowed to be sold beyond the jurisdiction of each provincial region. "This will no doubt result in more reasonable quotas and help raise sizable amounts of capital to help the poverty-relief campaign," he said, adding detailed regulations are still needed before the policy is officially launched. But local governments will not be allowed to force farmers to move into apartment buildings in order to achieve quotas.
Smaller plots of farmland will be combined into larger ones to achieve higher-standard farmland development. The overall size of farmland will be increased as some roads and other unused land among these tiny plots will be reclaimed, which will also result in some quotas being fulfilled, he said.
Wu Hongyao, deputy chief of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, said the government will also draft guidelines to encourage enterprises to participate in rural vitalization with preferential policies, including those in financing, loan applications and tax deductions.
He said the government will make efforts to cultivate and attract the talent needed for rural vitalization. As part of the efforts, agricultural experts from universities and scientific research institutes will be encouraged to take temporary or part-time positions in rural areas and companies, he said.
Seen as an indicator of policy priorities, the No 1 Central Document is the name traditionally given to the first policy statement that the central authorities release each year.
This has been the 15th consecutive year that the No 1 Central Document has been devoted to agriculture, farmers and rural areas.