Three central ministries summoned officials of 12 cities recently to explain why their local governments had illegal land reserves. The officials reportedly faced a tough time answering questions. But that is nothing compared to the difficulties ordinary people are facing because of skyrocketing housing prices, says an article in Huaxi Metropolis Daily. Excerpts:
The central ministries summoned the governors of only cities whose illegal land reserves exceed 15 percent. This means officials of other cities were not pulled up. Illegal land reserves have been a problem for a long time, and some experts say it is the main reason why housing prices have increased so much. But local governments have paid no attention to such factors, many of which are still trying to "hoard" as much land as possible to serve their own interests.
Despite considering the ministries' action positive, people are questioning its effectiveness. According to reports, the ministries had summoned several mayors a few months ago, too. But that is all the news people got.
No wonder, the public is questioning the effectiveness of the ministries' action. If action means only summoning governors and mayors of cities to explain certain things and no punishment then it would be difficult to change the situation. People expect top authorities to really crack down on local governments and real estate developers.
Given the complicated structure of interests in cities, it is easier to blame local governments than realty developers for the spiraling prices. That's why, apart from implementing the accountability system, it is also necessary to change the economic structure of cities and cut off the interest chain linked to land. Moreover, since local governments are getting hold of more vacant land, it is difficult for one ministry to restore order to the housing sector.