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September 24, 2017

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Premier to take questions at Legislature on land act issue

TAIPEI -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah is set to take questions at an extraordinary legislative session that will open today to deal with a Cabinet proposal asking lawmakers to reconsider recently passed land act amendments that it fears could undermine Taiwan's housing price registration system.

Jiang will attend the legislative session Monday to explain why the Cabinet opposes the amendments to the Land Administration Agent Act and take questions from the lawmakers on the issue.

A vote is scheduled for Tuesday, the last day of the extraordinary legislative session, during which lawmakers will vote on whether to reconsider the amendments.

Only if more than half of the 112 lawmakers vote in favor of the amendments and against the reconsideration request will they remain valid.

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) currently has 64 seats in the Legislature, more than the 57 votes it needs to pass the Cabinet proposal, while the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has vowed to reject a reconsideration of the amendments, holds 40 seats.

The premier said last week that the Cabinet opposes the amendments because the new provisions could impair Taiwan's system for accurately registering housing sale prices.

Under the new amendments, professional land administration agents will not be punished if they correct mistakes made when registering real estate transaction prices within a legally specified period of time after being notified of a problem.

This transfers the burden of accuracy from the land agents and real estate brokers to government auditors.

"Such amendments could cause government agencies to incur huge labor and administrative costs when they have to verify registered transaction prices, ultimately undermining the system," Jiang said.

A system was launched Aug. 1, 2012 requiring that the actual prices of real-estate transactions be registered within 30 days of the transaction.

The move was part of the government's efforts to curb speculation in the housing market. Before then, accurate information on sale prices in the housing market was hard to come by, enabling land developers and real estate brokers to manipulate prices.

Under the existing Land Administration Agent Act, agents who fail to record required information on a transaction within 30 days after it takes place, or who register an inaccurate price, are subject to fines ranging from NT$30,000 (US$992) to NT$150,000.

Jiang, like many critics of the passed amendments, is concerned that the new provisions will encourage agents to issue false reports on properties or exercise less caution when registering prices, which could eventually endanger the system.

During the extraordinary legislative session, lawmakers will also discuss amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation, which cover issues such as regulations on genetically modified ingredients.

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