Citizens of Ukraine are afraid that the land will be bought by foreigners, and this is one of the main reasons why two-thirds of voters in the “land referendum” will vote against the sale of land, which now embodies power, Director of the Rating sociological group Oleksiy Antypovych said.
During the roundtable conference titled “Ukrainians’ Attitude to Land Market” hosted by Interfax-Ukraine, commenting on the results of the survey published the day before, which his company conducted at the end of April, the sociologist said that 77% of residents support the referendum against the sale of agricultural land and 75% intend to take part in it.
“We asked very clearly, how would you vote in a referendum on such a question: ‘Do you support the introduction of a market for the purchase or sale of agricultural land in Ukraine?’ We see that 36% would vote for the introduction of a land market, while 64% would vote against it. Two-thirds are against, a third are for,” Antypovych said.
According to him, Ukrainians are especially frightened by the intention to allow the purchase of Ukrainian land by foreign citizens and companies, some 79% of respondents are against this.
“The fear that the land will be bought by foreigners is one of the main factors causing great resistance or great disagreement by Ukrainians to the idea of selling land, and there is no difference between residents of the West or the East, or respondents from different age groups,” the sociologist said.
It is planned that the land market in Ukraine should start working as early as July 1, 2021.
The participants of the event said the amendments to the Land Code, recently adopted by the votes of a mono-majority, allowed the sale of Ukrainian land to foreigners, canceled the ban on the sale of especially valuable land and provided the preferential right to purchase land to persons who are going to be engaged in mining.
At the same time, the parliamentary faction of the Batkivschyna party of Yulia Tymoshenko, which was the only one in the Verkhovna Rada that did not give a single vote for any “land” law, is now organizing an all-Ukrainian referendum in defense of the land.
Tymoshenko’s team has already opened a special hotline and has appointed a meeting of the initiative group, which already has more than 12,000 people, for May 22.
Land reform in Ukraine without the timely adoption and high-quality functioning of the judicial reform, as well as without the development of infrastructure will have negative consequences for the Ukrainian statehood, director of the Ukrainian Barometer sociological service Viktor Nebozhenko believes.
“Ukraine needs land reform, but it must be complemented by a judicial reform that would regulate possible conflicts. This is important. There is a risk of banditry with landlessness in the future. For example, there is a farmer who owns fertile land, and tomorrow he is shown documents that the land is no longer his. And with the judicial system that is now in Ukraine, it will end badly,” Nebozhenko said at an online conference at the Interfax-Ukraine news agency on the topic “Hot April 2021. Is Ukrainian politics entering perfect storm zone?”
Also, according to the political scientist, “in Ukraine it is necessary to develop a system of roads so that people and equipment can be brought or taken away to the fields.”
“Whatever land potential Ukraine has, it will not be realized without roads,” Nebozhenko added.
He noted that “an additional guarantee of a successful land reform would be the creation of land banks and land exchanges.”
“The figure of the prime minister, who would understand the issues of agrarian policy, is also important,” the expert said.
Political analyst Valentyn Hladkykh, in turn, noted that “there is a danger of excessive concentration of land in transnational companies or land oligarchs.”
“Land in no case should become an object of financial speculation. Conventionally, such an asset is bought with the hope of resale in case of a rise in its price, but it is not interesting as a resource for exploitation. I am a supporter of land reform from the point of view that land should be in the hands of private owners who will directly work on it. Since the land begins to be worth something only when human work is added to it,” he said.
“The Verkhovna Rada lifted the moratorium on the sale of land, but it is necessary to develop infrastructure so that everything can function in a civilized way. Otherwise, very negative consequences could occur not only for the Ukrainian government, but also for the Ukrainian statehood,” the political analyst added.
Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine Roman Leshchenko called the adoption of bill No. 2194 on amendments to the Land Code of Ukraine fateful, and the implementation of land reform will become a real indicator of changes for the better in the country. “Now the right to dispose land has been transferred to local communities finally and irrevocably. From now on, the State Service of Ukraine for Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre is only a service organization, the most deregulated, with the elimination of corruption powers in land management,” he wrote on Facebook.
The minister said that bill No. 2194 provides for the reform of the management system in the field of land relations and the removal of artificial restrictions on economic activity to simplify access to land resources for the population and business; cancellation of unnecessary permits and duplication of checks of land management documentation; as well as introduction of independent control over land management documentation through public expertise or peer review.
According to him, other key points of the document are the provision of the status of public, open and public data to the information contained in the documentation on land management; integration and unification of land management, topographic, geodetic and cartographic activities; introduction of professional liability insurance for land management workers as an alternative to state control; reducing the cost of work and the length of time spent on the implementation of procedures related to land management; and reducing the risk of bribery and corruption.
“This is a historically fateful event, one of the most important laws in my life, which confirms the inevitability of land reform, for which I am responsible in our state,” the minister said.
As reported, the Verkhovna Rada approved amendments to the Land Code and other laws to improve the management and deregulation system in land relations.
The grant support of the European Union (EU) for the development of agriculture and small-sized farms in Ukraine envisages EUR 26 million, including EUR 10 million will be sent to implement the land reform. According to the documents to the agreement, which are available at Interfax-Ukraine, it is planned to allocate EUR 8 million for reform in the field of rural development, and EUR 7.5 million for support of small farms. The remaining EUR 0.5 million is planned to be spent on audit, inspection expenses and information interaction, as well as ensuring publicity.
Support for land reform under the agreement will be carried out under the indirect management of the World Bank.
The implementation period of the agreement is 108 months from the date of its entry into force.
As reported, the government of Ukraine and the European Commission signed an agreement on support for the development of agriculture and small farming in Ukraine in the amount of EUR 26 million in Brussels on January 28.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting with World Bank President David Malpass has confirmed his intention to carry out land reform, complete the unbundling of Naftogaz, demonopolize the economy and state-owned enterprises, and respect the independence of the National Bank. Malpass wrote on his FT blog following a meeting with Zelensky that at their meeting Zelensky had confirmed several key growth measures that will be mentioned at the meetings with G7: implement the land reform, split ownership of Naftogaz’ transit assets, demonopolize the economy and state-owned enterprises, and respect the independence of the central bank.
According to Malpass, to attract investment in Ukraine, it is necessary to eliminate monopolies in favor of market competition and strengthen the rule of law.
Capital should be send to the most productive enterprises but not to influential privileged circles and oligarchs, he said.
Malpass also emphasized the importance of land reform.
The country has the largest stock of agricultural land in Europe, but the yield per hectare is only a small part of the crop in France and Germany. At the same time, one oligarch controls a group of companies that produces more than 80% of domestic output of several types of mineral fertilizers, the banker said.
As reported, World Bank President David Malpass on August 22-23 for the first time visited Ukraine after he has taken this post on April 9, 2019.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that this year the land reform will be conducted in the country, which would allow creating the land market in 2020.
“This year we shall certainly conduct the land reform, which will allow creating the 40 million ha land market next year,” he said at the Ukrainian-Turkish business forum in Istanbul on Thursday.