From the President

H. James Brown, July 1, 2004

As I have reported previously, the Lincoln Institute is actively engaged in an array of land and tax policy initiatives in China that will have a profound impact on the socioeconomic transformation and institutional change currently under way there. The first of three projects that illustrate this potential is described in this issue of Land Lines, and the others will be reported in the future.

Farmland Preservation: We are working with the central government’s Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) to develop a farmland preservation and retention strategy in an era of rapid urbanization. China is home to 20 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for only 7 percent of the world’s total of farmland. Moreover, the majority of human activity in China—where people live, farm, have businesses or build infrastructure—is located in the fast-growing eastern part of the country. As the population expands and access to farmland becomes more limited, concerns about the nation’s future food supply have increased.

Policy Assistance in Beijing: The Institute is collaborating with the Beijing Municipal Urban Planning Commission to develop a master plan that will recognize market forces as a mechanism in urban development. The Institute’s program in Beijing marks the first time this commission has asked foreign experts from a market-based country to provide technical assistance. Our primary role is to demonstrate the linkages among market forces, planning and urban policy so planners can play a leading role in directing urban development in ways that adequately address economic, social, environmental and fiscal issues.

Property Taxation: The Institute is also assisting in the design and development of a property (land) taxation system in China. The central government has decided to implement a major reform of its tax system by 2007–2008. The Institute has been invited to collaborate on the research and design of a property taxation system with the Development Research Center of the State Council, China’s principal policy think tank. The objective is to develop a value-based tax that will be levied on property across categories—a landmark change that will restructure intergovernmental relationships and provide an important revenue source for local government.

Brown to Retire; Presidential Search Announced

H. James Brown, president and CEO of the Lincoln Institute since 1996, has notified the board and staff that he intends to retire from the Institute in 2005. Katie Lincoln, chairman of the Institute board, stated, “We will miss Jim’s leadership, but we are grateful for his many contributions to the Lincoln Institute over the past eight years. We wish him well in his retirement.” A full report on Brown’s tenure at the Institute will be published in a future issue of Land Lines.