Yushchenko vetoes extended moratorium on land sales


President Yushchenko has used his power of veto on the law which extended the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land up till 1 January 2012.  His Press Service informs that he has returned the Law “On amendments to Items 14 and 15 of Section X “Transitional Provisions” of the Land Code of Ukraine on the term for sale of land plots” for the Verkhovna Rada to reconsider. At the same time he sent a submission regarding this law to the Constitutional Court.

As already reported, on 22 December the Verkhovna Rada extended the agricultural land sale moratorium, claiming that this was necessary since Ukraine has yet to pass laws on a State land cadastre, on the land market and on land plot registration, and that there is no authentic information about the qualitative composition of land nor the monetary value of the farm land.

Worth noting the comments made in Human Rights in Ukraine – 2007, regarding the land moratorium. “The moratorium on the sale of agricultural land imposed until legislation is passed regulating relations on the land market continues. Yet the situation deteriorates with every year and the rights of those people who have ownership rights on land are being significantly restricted. The owners of the land are effectively deprived of the possibility of disposing of their property. Moreover there are shadow set ups for selling or changing the designated purpose of the land on the land market. All of this leaves the owners without protection from legislation.

Over the years since independence, Ukraine has still not managed to create legislation regulating the land market, and laws “On the Land Cadastre”, “On the land market” and others have not been passed. One feels that this moratorium is never-ending, and therefore there is no end to violations of the rights of those owning pieces of agricultural land.

This all results in a shadow market flourishing in rural areas, or, quite simply, a free-for-all. Rural residents sell their land shares for cheap; they fall victims to firms involved in land raiding which, under the protection of the courts, buy up the deeds to their land; local councils change the designated purpose of hundreds of hectares of land in order to then sell them, etc.”

In an article entitled “Verkhovna Rada extends land sale moratorium. This will not solve the land issue, experts say”, Vitalii Kniazhansky examined the issue. The article in full is available (in English) at .  The following are only extracts:

“Let us listen to the arguments of those who changed their attitude to the possibility of land sale. The president of the Ukrainian Agricultural Confederation Leonid Kozachenko said in his conversation with The Day: “Our original position lied in the fact that we supported the land market. But at the beginning of this year we saw that everything was done to prevent this market from being established and meanwhile, an extremely favourable foundation for corruption was created. And then for the first time we called for a moratorium.

“There is no database on current landowners and hence no information on how the immense areas of reserve lands are being allotted. It is unknown today who has the seal and the right to sign documents determining ownership. Worse still, there is no legislation to transparently and clearly monitor the land market when it appears.

“All of this gave us reasons to support the idea of extending the moratorium. At present the situation (compared to spring) has escalated. The state governmental bodies responsible for the realization of the land reform are acknowledged as most corrupt in the country. It would be wrong to give them the right to regulate the land market. That is why we are not against the prolongation of the moratorium. If the government is replaced, real efforts to fight corruption are made, and there are results (they can be expected no sooner than in a year after the coming of the new government), then in 2011 we will be able to see the first signs indicating that there are reasons to cancel the moratorium and establish the transparent and efficient land market”.

Anton Filipenko, president of the Ukrainian Association of International Economists, emphasized in his conversation with The Day: “The moratorium is a reactionary decision that perpetuates the negative situation in Ukraine. The entire world uses land as commodity, so any delay in the process of involving land in the sphere of market relations is a loss for our economy and hence for people. Another thing is that mechanisms should be found to defend the country from latifundism.”

Andrii MARTYN, Ph.D. in economics, associate professor at the Department of Land Management, National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine:

“In fact, the moratorium wasn’t extended; it remains the same. The newly established date doesn’t change the situation. Until the laws on the state cadastre and the land market are adopted, nothing will change. But the Verkhovna Rada has acted in its old fashion. They must believe that their obligation is to extend the moratorium before the New Year. Though again, it could have been ignored. This is the lack of understanding of the real situation on the market. If it is necessary, the land is sold and bought. However, because of the moratorium this process doesn’t have any advantages for agriculture or the protection of peasants.

“The moratorium today is just a ban for the owners to use their property. There are no constructive ideas. The reasons cited on the website of the Verkhovna Rada do not hold water. Due to the moratorium, the competitiveness of Ukrainian agriculture decreases considerably. Since there are no credit resources and no land as the main means of production (for now it is regarded as temporary capital), there are no major investments. The landholder will never invest in the development of agricultural infrastructure – only the owner can build numerous roads, grain elevators, farms, etc. Thus, today the moratorium arrests the normal development of agriculture”.

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