New regulations to confront seizures, corruption as local governments sidestep existing directives New rules aimed at controlling land use were announced by Beijing yesterday, including increased compensation for evicted residents and a requirement for more land to be sold through auction. The rules are part of the government's battle to curb property speculation and runaway investment. 'New problems' had emerged in land management, the State Council said as it unveiled an eight-point plan to tackle the issue, according to state media and an announcement on the website of the Ministry of Land and Resources. 'The increase in the amount of land used for construction is too rapid. The expansion of low-cost land for industry is excessive,' it said. 'Illegal use of land and the phenomenon of occupying farmland have been repeatedly allowed.' Beijing already has rules to manage land use, but local governments have resisted them as sales provide revenue and offer opportunities for corruption. Local governments also use land for pet development projects, one of the factors causing the economy to race out of control. The directive warns local governments that they must bear responsibility for the protection of farmland and gain the approval of the State Council and the Ministry of Land for conversion of farmland to other uses. The administration of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao has made improving farmers' lives a key political platform as the income gap between urban and rural residents widens. Farmers evicted from their land to make way for development must maintain the same standard of living, the directive said. Local governments must offer them job training and social security benefits. Xinhua reported that compensation for people relocated for development in both rural and urban areas would be doubled, but gave no figures. Some analysts say allowing farmers to own their land would offer better legal protection, but the government has stopped short of allowing private ownership. Beijing wanted tighter control over the money paid for land by requiring funds to be part of local budgets, the directive said, which in theory will allow better supervision. The central government would increase the standard for land-use fees and gave local governments a year-end deadline to collect outstanding fees. The price of industrial land is expected to rise sharply after the move. Land-use fees for new construction projects would double. Taxes would triple for urban land. To improve transparency, the central government would set minimum prices for sales of industrial land and require all such land to be sold through auction or tender. Despite rules requiring land auctions in some cities and provinces, most land is simply transferred and auctions are often rigged, industry sources say. To enforce the rules, the government said it would step up inspections and punish local officials and governments found responsible for violating them.