More than half of Ukrainians do not approve of the lifting of the moratorium on agricultural land sales, and 64% believe that this issue should be resolved in a referendum, according to a study conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS)on September 16-19, 2019. According to the survey, 52% of respondents do not approve of the instructions of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to lift the moratorium (ban) on the sale of agricultural land until October this year and the introduction of land sale until December this year. Some 35% of those surveyed are positive about this order, while 13% of respondents had difficulty answering the question.
Some 64% of respondents believe that the issue of agricultural land sale should be solved only in an all-Ukrainian referendum, and 26% believe that the issue should be resolved by the president, the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers, while 10% of respondents could not answer the question.
Director General of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) Volodymyr Paniotto noted that the number of opponents of land sale has decreased over the year – 72% were against the land sale in November 2018.
The survey was conducted by CATI method (computer-assisted telephone interviews) based on a random sampling of mobile phone numbers. The sample is representative of the adult population of Ukraine (18 years and older). The sample does not include territories temporarily not controlled by the authorities of Ukraine – the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. During the survey, 1,500 interviews were conducted. The sampling error with a probability of 0.95 does not exceed 2.6%.
The Verkhovna Rada’s committee on agrarian policy and land relations has recommended the parliament adopt draft law No. 9355-5 on extending the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land until January 1, 2020, Oleh Kulynych, who chairs the committee’s subcommittee on land relations, said on Facebook. He said the committee at a meeting on December 18 considered 16 registered bills relating to the extension of the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land. The bills offered different dates for lifting the moratorium from April 22, 2019 to January 1, 2030.
“I consider the optimal term to be one year, as proposed by bill No. 9355-5 … As the chairman of the land subcommittee, I proposed to support draft law No. 9355-5 and recommend the parliament adopt the bill as law,” Kulynych said.
The draft law provides that the Cabinet of Ministers by March 1, 2019 develop and submit a draft law on the turnover of agricultural land to the Rada.
The European Union has called on Ukraine to lift the moratorium on the export of round timber, as well as introduce administrative and institutional reforms and ensure the functioning of an efficient and transparent administrative system. “The EU encouraged Ukraine to continue fighting vested interests in order to improve the business and investment climate and eliminate swiftly trade irritants, such as the wood export ban,” according to the statement following a meeting of the Council of the Ukraine-EU Association, held in Brussels.
“Particular focus should be on effective and timely implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, and to further facilitate trade and eliminate technical barriers to trade, including as regards customs procedures, technical regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary systems as well as food safety reform, public procurement and the protection of intellectual property rights,” the report says.
“The Ukrainian side reaffirmed its commitments to technical regulation reform, notably the need to speed up adoption of sectoral and horizontal legislation, including in the area of market surveillance,” it says.
The EU pointed out that “Ukraine shall comply with all prerequisites set out in the AA/DCFTA including incorporating the relevant EU acquis into its legislation, making the administrative and institutional reforms and providing the efficient, effective and transparent administrative system, which are indispensable prior to starting ACAA [Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products] negotiations,” it said.
A group of people’s deputies on the initiative of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council on December 4 registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine bill No. 9355-5 extending the land moratorium until January 1, 2020, the association said. “Despite the fact that Ukraine is constantly debating on the possible introduction of the land market, we have not yet been submitted a draft law on farmland turnover. This issue is extremely worrying for domestic farmers and raises many questions. Under such circumstances, it’s too early to talk about lifting the moratorium,” deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council Denys Marchuk said.
The authors of the draft law on amendments to the Transitional Provisions section of the Land Code of Ukraine regarding the extension of the ban on alienation of agricultural land were Oleksandr Bakumenko, Petro Yurchyshyn, Mykola Kucher, Valeriy Davydenko, Leonid Kozachenko, Andriy Kot, Mykola Liushniak, Serhiy Labaziuk, Valentyn Didych, Ivan Kyrylenko, Anatoliy Kuzmenko, Oleh Kulinich, and Vadym Ivchenko.
The association noted, with reference to the explanatory note to draft law No. 9355-5, that political speculation that the land market will be introduced from January 1, 2019 creates tension in the society and does not contribute to citizens’ confidence in the reforms that are implemented in the state.
The European Union is ready to begin commercial arbitration with Ukraine to lift a moratorium on exports of round timber as the one violating the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze has said. “Unfortunately, Ukraine really violates the Association Agreement with the introduction of the moratorium on round timber exports. This obligation will be considered as part of commercial arbitration. And the European Union is ready to start this arbitration between Ukraine and the EU,” she said at a briefing in Kyiv. According to the official, the lifting of the moratorium is excluded from the list of conditions for provision of macro-financial assistance by the European Union.
Speaking about the implementation of other provisions of the macro-financial assistance, in particular, the launch of automatic verification of electronic declarations of politicians and officials, the deputy premier said that coordination between various departments is underway to soon come to full ability to conduct automatic checks.
“The only problem that I see at the moment so that this system could work is changes in the legislation. The draft law from the government has been considered by the Verkhovna Rada for a very long time, maybe more than a year, the bill that regulates the automatic connection of the NACP (the National Agency on Corruption Prevention) to different registers,” she added.