Legislators to vote on Land Agent Act amendment Tuesday
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-27 06:01 PM
With a vote on amendments to Taiwan’s Land Administration Agent Act set for Tuesday, the Consumers' Foundation has come forward in support of the amendments as originally passed by the Legislative Yuan. Foundation chairman Chang Chih-kang said Monday he believes the amendments are a step in the right direction, noting that in the past unscrupulous real estate agents have filed bogus prices with the government, correcting erroneous data only when it is detected. He said this creates two possibilities for fraud, the first being prices used for tax purposes that are lower than the actual sale prices, and the other being inaccurate price data that can be used to dupe unsuspecting buyers into paying more for a property than they might otherwise. As a result, said Chang, the government’s attempts to control transaction prices become meaningless.

In response, Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi said that the ministry has been pressing the Legislative Yuan to revise the amendment to ensure that the responsibility for reporting actual sales price does not fall to real estate agents. The legislators should also set penalties that will serve to discourage buyers from providing false information about prices paid for properties.

Amendments to Article 1 of Section 51 of the Land Agents Act were approved by the Legislative Yuan and sent to the President and the Executive for implementation within ten days, as specified in the Constitution. The Executive Yuan saw problems in the amendments, however, and with the approval of President Ma, sent the amendments back to the Legislative Yuan for reconsideration – again, within a ten-day period. Now the Legislative Yuan faces the task of trying to examine the amendments and the recommendations forwarded by the Executive Yuan and resolve any differences between the two, all by Wednesday, the last working day before the Lunar New Year.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah appeared at the Legislative Yuan Monday to deliver a report and field questions from legislators. 15 members of the ruling and opposition parties questioned Jiang during the afternoon session, and a vote is set for between 9:30 and 10:30AM Tuesday.

While Jiang was talking with legislators a crowd estimated at more than a thousand sat and stood outside the Legislative Yuan, occasionally launching into cries of “Jiang Yi-huah, step down!” Su Jun-chi, chairman of the ROC Association of Real Estate Attorneys, warned that if the government insists on making real estate agents into scapegoats in reporting property transactions, there will be no end to the protests they will stage. He warned that if the administration cannot succeed in restoring the price reporting system to a more equitable basis for agents by the end of the year, the government will pay in the 7-in-1 elections set for November.

As the crowd waved signs reading ‘Support actual price reporting!’ and ‘Say no to making agents the scapegoats!’, Su explained that the existing system removes the burden of reporting prices from buyers and sellers and places it squarely on the shoulders of real estate agents. He said the agents have been given the slimmest of opportunities to right this wrong but now the Executive Yuan is citing the Constitution as a way to keep the current system in place. Su called for the people to support the agents as they seek to ensure that the laws will be fair and impartial to all.

Executive Yuan spokesman Cheng Li-wen said the Executive Yuan has offered its own recommendations on proposed changes to the Land Administration Agent Act and hopes that members of both the ruling and opposition parties will support its suggestions.

DPP Secretary General Kao Chi-peng cautioned, however, that the proposal offered by the Executive Yuan is a reflection of a political struggle between Premier Jiang and Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan, and said the administration’s proposal could result in a loss of credibility for the nation’s real estate agents.

The DPP legislative caucus held a meeting Monday morning to discuss the Executive Yuan’s proposal, and all 40 members of the group are expected to vote against the suggestions on Tuesday. In addition, Hsu Chung-hsin, the general convener of the TSU, said Monday there is no reason to reconsider the amendments to the Land Agents Act. He said the three TSU legislators will also vote against the Executive Yuan’s recommendations. On the other hand, Lee Hung-chih, director of the KMT Central Policy Committee, said that the Executive Yuan has serious reservations about the Land Agents Act as amended by the Legislative Yuan, and KMT legislators can be expected to fall in line and vote for the Executive Yuan’s recommendations.

The ROC Constitution stipulates that when the Legislative Yuan reconsiders amendments to a law, if more than half of the legislators casting ballots are in favor of the original resolution, the Premier shall accept the resolution and put it into effect immediately; There are currently 112 seats in the Legislative Yuan, 65 of which are held by KMT members while the DPP holds 40 seats and the TSU has three.

During the short extraordinary session the Legislative Yuan is also addressing revisions to amendments in the Food Sanitation Management Act as well as the time frame for toll-free travel on the nation’s freeways during the Spring Festival period and other miscellaneous matters.

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