Cabinet to create ad hoc group on land reform
Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers will set up an ad hoc group to devise a draft bill for land reform.
According to the Cabinet's press service, a group chaired by Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman took place on Monday, during which the basic elements of the measure were discussed with Verkhovna Rada deputies, representatives of the requisite Rada committees, and leaders of agriculture associations and organizations and farming collectives.
During the discussion, Groysman said the opening of the land market will be a stimulus for economic development, a boost for farmer collectives, will lead to the creation of production infrastructure in villages and, in the mid-term, will facilitate the transition Ukraine's economy from one based on raw materials to an economy of added value.
Groysman said the process should take place gradually and take into account all risks. Therefore land turnover [sales] should be available only to individuals – Ukrainian citizens – in volumes not exceeding 200 hectares per person.
"At this stage we categorically oppose land sales to foreigners and opening up the land market to legal entities," Groysman was quoted as saying.
He said the model that must be proposed should contain clear safeguards against land being bought up by those who want to make large profits.
"Participants of the meeting expressed various positions, 'for' and 'against,' but in general agreed that the issue is not centered on position of overturning or keeping the moratorium on land sales. According to participants in the discussion, framing the question in such a matter would be purely manipulative," the press statement said.
The issue, according to participants at the meeting, is to determine what model of land turnover would be best for Ukraine, and then to begin discussing how to introduce it.
Meeting participants agreed the shadow land market in Ukraine already exists. Based on uncompetitive principles, some 1.5 million hectares of agricultural land was put to use during 2016. The starting price for renting land was a mere UAH 940 per hectare, and only 42,000 hectares were put into use at a significantly higher price through competitions.
"As a result of the meeting the sides agreed to create an intergovernmental working group comprised of government representatives, Rada deputies, representatives of agricultural associations and experts. The working group in the near future is expected to propose a plan for the first stage of land reform based on the already formulated positions of government and taking into account the opinions of all those involved in developing Ukraine's agricultural sector," the Cabinet's press release said.
Groysman also issued instructions to prepare immediately draft a government resolution to prevent "future violations of land use."