One third of the 48 idle plots of land that were attributable to leaseholders have been exempted from the revocation of concessions by the government, the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosário, revealed on Tuesday.
The secretary notified the Legislative Assembly (AL)’s Follow-up Committee on Land and Public Concession Affairs of the result when explaining the government’s progress on idle land recovery. However, he was unable to provide further information, as “they had already been handled with before he took office.”
According to the Committee’s president, lawmaker Ho Ion Sang, the AL wasn’t aware that the government had “set the captive 16 idle plots free” either, until officials revealed the fact in the meeting on Tuesday.
“We were not told when those land plots were ‘set free,’ but it was certainly before the new Secretary’s term started,” he said, adding that the Committee’s stance is “whether the Secretary has changed or not, it is the government’s unavoidable responsibility to account for the situation and progress of land recovery.”
Lawmakers at the meeting have urged the government to give an explanation, as well as to provide information on those plots’ sizes and locations. In response, Rosario promised to gather more information and return to the AL to explain the matter by the end of this legislative session, ending August 15.
“Since the Land Law took effect in 2013, we have repeatedly requested that the government explain its land recovery progress. Unfortunately, the former Secretary was too busy to come to the AL to explain the work’s progress and to make it more transparent to the public,” said Ho Ion Sang.
The government began handling idle plots in 2009, which by definition are parcels of land granted to the private sector that haven’t been utilized properly within the statuary or contractual period of time, due to reasons attributable to the developer or leaseholder.
Ho explained that the procedure for handling an idle lot is complex, from “hearings regarding the leaseholder’s explanation, facts and legal analysis, procedures declaring the land concession invalid, case trials by the Chief Executive’s panel of legal experts, to the announcement of revocation in the Official Gazette.”
“There are a total of 113 plots that are not being utilized at an acceptable standard. These plots were intended for residential, industrial, office building and commercial purposes. The reasons why they are not being utilized enough can be divided into six categories. Apart from the 48 idle plots, 34 plots are not being developed due to urban planning restrictions,” revealed the lawmaker. (macaunews/macaudailytimes)