Letter: Land reform optimism misplaced - Businesslive

2 August 2019 - It is difficult not to notice in the report an intention significantly to expand the latitude of the state to intrude into the property of those subject to it. This is expressed in expropriation without compensation, land ceilings, land taxes, possible restrictions on foreign ownership and so on.

While the report of the presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture may come as a relief to some for giving some endorsement to the importance of property rights — and for not recommending a blanket nationalisation of SA’s land, your optimistic reading is misplaced (“Land panel affirms property rights, limits expropriation”, July 29).

It is difficult not to notice in the report an intention significantly to expand the latitude of the state to intrude into the property of those subject to it. This is expressed in expropriation without compensation, land ceilings, land taxes, possible restrictions on foreign ownership and so on. As a whole, this undermines rather than affirms private property rights. Given the pathologies within the state — already a major problem, which, to its credit, the panel recognised — there is reason for concern about how these would unfold.

It is worth noting that this report is not binding. Policymakers may step back from it, but may also expand on it. It might be invoked as a mandate for more aggressive government action, leading ineluctably over time to ever more “radical” action, including the nationalisation of land. This is a course of action that was publicly proposed by a senior official from the department of rural development & land reform at Davos earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the rest of the day’s edition was replete with stories of the crisis besetting the country. Anglo is doubtful about coal mining. Our credit rating is a “time bomb ticking”, and a “reason for panic”. The economy is in a “slow motion crash”. The massive expenditure of the proposed National Health Insurance scheme is based on pilots that were “hard to evaluate”.

A very bleak outlook, and the constriction of property rights will destroy the prospects of a turnaround.

Terence Corrigan, Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2019-08-02-letter-land-reform-optimism-misplaced/

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