What are the concerns about turnover of agricultural land on the ground and what is the government going to do to remedy the situation?
By Taras Vysotskyi, Deputy Minister of Economy, Trade and Agriculture, for Ekonomichna Pravda
The closer to the new year, adoption of the law on the turnover of agricultural land and launch of the market, the more and more often experts of different levels say what will happen to Ukraine, which will finally be able to dispose of the land.
As spoiler, only good will happen, but it is best seen from Kyiv or other big cities where you can ask questions to all interested persons, come to listen to the authorities and their opponents, get more information.
But our task is to bring information about the reform to the ground so that people in the villages and AHs are not afraid of the future.
In order to find out what our fellow citizens are beware of, we at the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture conducted a survey of AH heads and village councils.
Overall, I am pleased with the result – 59.7% of 5.3 thousand respondents support land turnover.
This is a good result considering the anti-market campaign.
But the survey also revealed some of the fears we have to deal with when we talk about starting agricultural land use, not just about lifting the moratorium, but about the full and comprehensive reform of land relations.
Fear # 1. Creation of monopolies that own a land bank
We are strengthening antitrust mechanisms. And the land turnover will come under antitrust control and the Law on Protection of Economic Competition.
Fear # 2. Speculation on the market
The purchase of state and communal lands will be possible exclusively at public electronic auctions at the starting price not lower than the regulatory monetary value.
The owner of a private share will also be able to sell it through e-bidding.
Fear # 3. Inappropriate land use
In the Land Code, this issue is clearly spelled out – land should be used for its intended purpose, which is prescribed in the documents and the General Plan for the development of the territory.
We will make sure that the land arrays do not change their purpose during the start of land turnover, but hromadas themselves should monitor this issue as well, since the state land will be transferred to them.
Fear # 4. Foreigners will take over the whole land mass
Only Ukrainian citizens and Ukrainian companies (legal entities) will be able to buy Ukrainian land. There are no other options and cannot be.
All owners of agricultural land will be exclusively in the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian legislation.
The myths about the Chinese, Arabs or aliens who will come and take out all the land in the car trunks are nonsense.
Fear # 5. Raiding
There is currently a draft bill number 0858 that will prevent raider attacks and protect land ownership.
In addition, bill 1056-1, drafted by the Ministry of Justice, which in its entirety aims to combat raiding, substantially increases liability for “errors” in the registration of property transactions and makes the re-registration procedure transparent and clear.
We develop a tax system where all land-related taxes remain in hromadas.
This means that where the fields are cultivated, there will be funds for schools, hospitals, roads and anything people concern about.
Fear # 7. Farmers will not be able to buy land
Any Ukrainian farmer who wants to purchase land will be able to do so.
Especially for small farmers, we are creating a Land Loan Reduction Programme.
The programme will work since 2020. The budget for the next year is estimated at UAH 4.4 billion, and only because the land turnover will only work from October.
In the coming years, budget support will be even more significant.
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