Macau's land valuation rules to be revamped

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2007, 12:00am

The Macau government will revamp its land valuation criteria, based on a public consultation to be launched in June or July, according to new secretary for transport and public works, Lau Si-io.

Mr Lau - who replaced disgraced former minister Ao Man-long, who is facing corruption charges - also told the legislature yesterday that Beijing had not approved a controversial reclamation scheme submitted last year. 'We are reviewing the formulas for calculating land premiums to better reflect the true value of land and properties,' he said.

'A public consultation will be launched in June or July.'

It has become a controversial issue to reform the city's opaque land zoning system. Many Labour Day protesters demanded an end to 'land giveaways', expressing concern over developers getting land at prices well below market value.

Mr Lau said the government would broaden the Land Committee's membership by including professionals from the cultural sector. The committee, responsible for land policies, is dominated by transport and public works officials.

To enhance transparency, the government also was preparing a large database of land information, Mr Lau said. The database would allow public access to ownership information of the city's land that has been sold or developed.

But he would not agree to requests from legislators that land information be published before each land sale or rezoning.

Early last year, Ao announced an ambitious reclamation plan to increase the size of Macau by about 15 per cent, without getting approval from Beijing.

Unlike Hong Kong, Macau has no jurisdiction over sea areas. A source at the central government's liaison office said Beijing was unhappy with the scheme.

Mr Lau told legislators yesterday that an application for the scheme was still 'being reviewed' by Beijing more than 16 months after its submission.

Multibillion-dollar investment plans by Hong Kong developers may be delayed as the Macau government tightens approval procedures. Some of the plans, involving land to be reclaimed, will not proceed without Beijing's approval.

Pro-democracy legislator Ng Kuok-cheong said the government had taken a small step towards transparency over the land issue.

'It only moves when you push hard,' said Mr Ng, 'The public should raise their voices to press for greater transparency.'