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BY IVAN ŠTULAJTER

Less speed

The state is again speculating about expropriating property as a way of making its life easier. The Transport Ministry has submitted for review a draft law containing certain measures to speed preparations for freeway construction.

The state is again speculating about expropriating property as a way of making its life easier. The Transport Ministry has submitted for review a draft law containing certain measures to speed preparations for freeway construction. It contains two major flaws. First, if expropriation occurs, state building offices will not concern themselves with the issue of adequate compensation, as the practice has been until now. The ministry sees it as follows: "If the participants agree on a form of compensation, the building office will confirm it. If there is no agreement, the building office will recommend that the participants take their case to court."

This is a bit much. The constitution says that "expropriation or the restriction of ownership rights is only possible in unavoidable cases in the public interest, and on the basis of law and for adequate compensation". So how do building offices intend to confiscate people's property without considering the issue of adequate compensation?

According to the draft law, citizens could lose their property with no definite prospect of compensation in sight. Imagine the ordinary citizen being confronted by the National Freeways Administration and told that if he doesn't agree with the compensation proposed for his house and garden, he can take the state to court. How many people would actually sue, and how many would accept even a bad deal to avoid the hassle and expense?

The other major flaw in the bill is that even if a citizen does sue, this legal act does not postpone the act of expropriation. In other words, regardless of whether he sues, the citizen loses his house and garden to the bulldozers and asphalt of the government's freeway construction program. Are freeways really so important?


Sme, February 6

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