A presidential outline for constitutional amendment proposes to strengthen dictation of public purpose of land, a move that can give legal justification in the liberal Moon Jae-in administration’s actions to impose higher levies on the real estate- wealthy to ensure greater equalities.
The president’s proposed outline on the new Constitution would allow the state or local governments to restrict or add obligation onto private property in special cases to serve public or reasonable purpose, the Blue House said.
The presidential official has been releasing a presidential version of a bill to amend the 1987 Constitution in three parts.
The public concept of land that President Moon Jae-in is seeking to include in the proposed constitutional revision is already reflected in the Constitution to some degree. Under the Constitution, the second clause of article 23 stipulates that “the exercise of property rights shall conform to the public welfare” and article 122 that “the State may impose, under the conditions as prescribed by Act, restrictions or obligations necessary for the efficient and balanced utilization, development and preservation of the land of the nation that is the basis for the productive activities and daily lives of all citizens.”
The proposed revision in the Constitution that the government is working on, however, more clearly defines the public concept of land and widely acknowledges its discretionary authority by including details that it may impose special restraint or duty. The inclusion suggests that although land ownership is given to an individual, benefits or financial gains from the land should be shared by the greater public.
If the revision is included in the new Constitution, the government can more easily up taxes on properties.
The concept with ideological sensitivity as state control over private property is common in socialist economies will likely be strongly protested by the conservatives.
The presidential bill itself cannot pass the opposition-dominant legislative even if it is tabled on March 26. The presidential official nevertheless is suspected of publishing details of its version to gain upper hand in discussions for constitutional reform and in the June local elections.
By Kang Gye-man and Lee Eun-joo
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