MANILA—Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Wednesday said the country’s land policies and governance must be enhanced to address issues like landlessness.
In his speech during the Conference on Sustainable Land Governance in Manila Wednesday, Dominguez admitted that the country’s land governance policies “are in urgent need for upgrading.”
“We need to bring coherence to the conflicting provisions between remedial pieces of legislation such as the Indigenous People’s Rights Act and existing property rights. We need a clear policy regarding habitation in danger zones. We need to rethink agrarian reform in the light of continuing backwardness of our agriculture, ” he said.
Dominguez said that since the country is an archipelago there are smaller portions of arable land for the people compared to other countries in the region.
This was aggravated by the strong rise of population and development of areas sans the lack of proper urban planning, he said.
The Finance chief said demand for land would further rise on higher needs by commercial developers, agricultural estates, industrial and export processing zones and extractive industries.
“The competition will likely encourage land prices to spiral unless we improve land governance. If land becomes too expensive it will be inaccessible to the homeless and raise the costs of production thereby diminishing our competitiveness, ” he said.
Dominguez said the issue of poor land governance in Metro Manila, for one, would likely affect other areas in the country, thus, the need to address this as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, he disclosed that the Department of Finance (DOF) has started to design a program targeted to reduce estate taxes “to encourage documentation of land assets and free them up for productive use.”
“We are encouraging the local government units to update their land valuations as always measure to discourage idle land as much as to improve public revenues, ” he added.