Vice President U Henry Van Thio delivered an address at the National Land Use Policy Forum, held at the Myanmar International Convention Centre-2 in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning.
The forum was attended by Union Ministers who are members of the National Land Use Council, Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman, State/Region Chief Ministers, Hluttaw representatives, heads of departments, ethnic national representatives, representatives from international organizations and civil society organizations and invited guests.
In his address to the forum, Vice President U Henry Van Thio said that according to the population and household data collected in the 2014 census, Myanmar has a population of more than 51 million with a population density of 81 persons per square kilometer,which is the second lowest population density among the Southeast Asian countries, following Laos.
Land resources are the essential indispensable resource for the existence of humans and society. The difference between this vital resource and other resources is that it could not be increased and has limitations. This is to be noted. According to an estimate by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), increase in population and soil erosion in the land, by 2020 there will be only 0.18 hectare of cultivable land per person. This is half of cultivable land per person in 1960 and by 2050 it is estimated to be reduced by half again.
In order to use and manage the land resources in the country sustainably, a national land use policy was drawn up with the participation of the people and was enacted and announced in January 2016. The enacting of this policy that was not in existence before is a progress in land sector reform and development, but to establish systematic land management, the enacted national land use policy is required to be implemented practically.
The national land use council was formed in order to implement the aims, guidelines and basic principles of the national land use policy and to implement laws related to it.
Land management in Myanmar faces limitations and challenges, such as being faced with land disputes after settling and living in land managed by the government, inability to grant permission for investments in large land areas, requirement to amend the prevailing laws and processes that are not in accord with the current times, weaknesses in abiding by work processes, presence of corruption, requirement to provide information, weakness in drawing up programs that has the most economic benefit and the least natural environmental impact, weaknesses among businesses in taking up CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and weaknesses in implementing natural environment conservation works, and being at odds with the local people, need for drawing up land use projects, people’s participation required in establishing and approving land use rights, incorrect and incomplete record of land resources, difficulty of management at the ground level and coordination required among related organizations. To overcome these challenges and to implement the aims of national land use policy, laws related to land management are to be reviewed and a national land law that encompasses policy, laws, work procedures and management format beneficial to the people need to be drawn up and enacted.
Supporting work committees and an advisory group have been formed and works will be conducted to use the land resources of the country effectively. As cooperation is needed between the Central Committee for Reviewing Confiscated Farmlands and Other Lands, formed due to special needs; the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Central Committee formed under the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law; the Central Farmland Management Group formed under the Farmland Law and the National Land Use Council, news ways need to be found to increase cooperation among these bodies.
In Myanmar, the majority of the farmers are engaging in agriculture and small scale livestock breeding on small plots of lands. As the matter of land use and stability of land use rights of small plot holders and landless farmers is a priority work, 14 main work processes were earmarked to be established in the agriculture policy and agriculture development strategy. To conduct the 14 main tasks effectively, the National Land Use Council will make it a priority to form a work committee.
Furthermore, when the government strives towards the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong process and national reconciliation, peace and establishment of a federal democratic union of Myanmar, ten and two land and natural environment sector agreements were reached in the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong second and third sessions, respectively. The government’s land sector reform work processes of drawing up a national land law based on national land use policy guideline, to be in accord with existing laws, drawing up and implementing national land use projects, recognize, include and protect land distribution and management systems of local ethnic nationals and rights in drawing up National Land Law and when conducting other farm land management matters, inclusion and coordinating of policy agreements reached at the 21st Century Panglong Conference is an important long term process that is required to be continued.
Therefore, the National Land Use Policy Forum was held to discuss and coordinate long and short term strategies, tactics and work processes to implement the works of the National Land Use Council effectively, to draw up a National Land Law based on national land use policy and to manage the land resources.
All forum attendees are urged to discuss and suggest on the establishment of a good farm land administration and management system that could implement the aims, guidelines and basic principles of national land use policy, said the Vice President.
Next, the Vice President posed for a group photo with forum participants and inspected the exhibits showing works conducted on establishment of national land use policy.
Afterwards, the forum resumed and participants discussed establishment of a national land use policy, important guidelines in the policy, status of forming land use committees, national land use programs and drawing up of zones, policy guidelines on national map system and work processes of land record department, Myanmar national map establishment project and progress achieved.
The forum will be continued today, and on the second day of the forum, land sector development of agriculture land, vacant, fallow and virgin land, co-existence of local ethnic nationals between people and forest and priority work processes of the National Land Use Council will be discussed, it is learnt.