| Global Times | 2013-11-21 1:28:01
By Chang Meng and Hu Qingyun
The Chinese government has decided to establish an integrated registration system for immovable property, a move observers see as part of the authorities' efforts to fight corruption and malpractice in property transactions.
A State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday stated that the current scattered registration responsibilities of immovable property will be integrated under one department, streamlining processes to reduce the burdens on enterprises and the public.
It will also help protect the legal rights of property owners while enhancing the authorities' efficiency and quality of governance, the statement said.
The Ministry of Land and Resources will take the lead to supervise the immovable property registration including land, buildings, grasslands, forests and sea waters across the country.
Under a general information management platform, different government agencies could share information regarding registration, approval and trade in accordance with the law, the statement said.
The central government will also push forward the establishment of a public enquiry system about registration information to secure safe trading of properties.
Ma Baocheng, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the major goal of integrating the information is to facilitate the government's anti-corruption campaign.
"Currently, different properties are managed by different government departments and information is not shared," said Ma. "The authorities can do nothing about officials who may illegally own dozens of properties, as they have no idea how many properties are really under the official's name."
Ma said the move to integrate property registration systems may pave way for the long-anticipated disclosure of officials' properties.
Analysts also suggested that an integrated registration system is key to adjusting regulation policies according to the market situation and preventing illegal transactions found rampant in local real estate markets.
"It's an open secret that local real estate dealers always sign a contract with a price lower than the real transaction price," said Zhu Zhuohan, regional manager of Centaline Property's branch office in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.
"They do it to avoid paying higher tax and also because the local government turns a blind eye just to create a false picture to the central government that their property prices are under control," Zhu added.
Some also speculated that the integration of property registration will pave way for the property tax. The Communist Party of China said in a pivotal reform plan released last week that it will push forward the legislation of property tax.
Wu Gang and Tu Lei contributed to this story
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