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Europäische Scheindemokratie

in Conflicts 2017 · DE · Economics 2017 · Europe 2017 · Germany 2017 · Great Britain 2017 · Nation 2017 · Person 2017 · Politics 2017 · Skepticism 2017 · State 2017 · USA 2017 · YOUTUBE 2017 85 views / 5 comments

2. Tricky Law about Ukrainian Soil

in Economics 2017 · EN · Europe 2017 · EX-USSR · Finance 2017 · Industry · Nation 2017 · Politics 2017 · Skepticism 2017 · Ukraine 2017 63 views / 4 comments


GEOMETR.IT    bunews.com.ua


*IMF pressure has put agricultural land sales reform back on the Ukrainian political agenda

but proposed changes may prove disappointing

From ancient folk legends of pastoral fertility to the horrors of Stalin’s 1930s Holodomor terror famine, agricultural land has always occupied a central role in the Ukrainian national narrative.

This is hardly surprising – Ukraine is the famed “Breadbasket of Europe” boasting the world’s greatest concentrations of highly sought-after Black Earth. There has traditionally been an almost mystical relationship between Ukrainians and the soil, with a broad and longstanding consensus that it is the country’s greatest asset. This makes the issue of agricultural land sales particularly emotive for millions of Ukrainians. Indeed, it has sparked far greater national debate than the less-than-transparent privatization of the country’s giant industrial enterprises. With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calling for land sale reforms as a condition for the current cooperation package, the issue is now back at the top of the country’s political priorities and looks set to dominate the agenda in May and beyond.

In fact, many of the broader issues relating to land reform were resolved at the turn of the millennium. Changes to legislation saw land previously belonging to Soviet-era collective farms privatized and distributed among employees. However, the final stage of this process, allowing for the free market circulation of agricultural land, has remained out of reach. At present, there is a moratorium over the sale of agricultural land, which means the owners of land plots cannot sell or otherwise dispose of their land. This moratorium is set to remain in place until 1 January 2018.

IMF Expectations

At present, two rival bills (numbers 5535 and 5535-1) are set to go before the Ukrainian parliament for consideration. The key difference between them is the right of foreign entities and individuals to purchase agricultural land.

While the first option would allow foreign purchases from 2030 onwards, the second version would place tough limits on the circle of potential buyers, restricting all purchases to Ukrainian citizens and companies where Ukrainians hold more than 51% of share capital. These differences cut to the very core of the emotions surrounding the agricultural land sale issue.

Relatively few Ukrainians actually object to the notion of owning and selling agricultural land, but almost everyone seems upset by the idea of sales to foreigners. “Foreign people will come and take over our precious land,” is the potent rallying cry and political message of those opposing reform.

Rental Realities 

In reality, it is actually far from clear whether the issue of land sale reform will transform the agricultural sector, regardless of whether foreigners are excluded from the market or not. Following the distribution of collective farm land plots to individuals in 1999-2000, only a small number of these new landowners chose to become independent farmers and develop their own piece of Ukraine’s celebrated Black Earth. The vast majority opted to rent their land back to the same collective farms – now reorganized into commercial companies – or to reach agreement with newly established agricultural businesses.

Faced by the prospect of a long-term moratorium, agricultural businesses sought to secure their interests by negotiating long-term rental agreements with the appropriate provisions protecting them from the implications of any future cancellation of the moratorium.

As a direct result of these developments, the large majority of Ukrainian agricultural land plots that would fall under the removal of the moratorium are already subject to rental agreements with the major agricultural companies that dominate the Ukrainian agricultural industry. In most cases, rental payments cover many years in advance. This leasehold model has proved a good instrument for operating an agricultural business in Ukraine. It is also worth noting that it does not prevent foreign investors from operating in the Ukrainian agricultural sector. Many Ukrainian agro-holdings currently have foreign shareholders.

Under the current circumstances, any individual plots of land that theoretically became available for purchase following the end of the moratorium would be of limited interest on the open market, except to the current tenants. Bearing in mind that most of these tenants have already made significant investments into long-term rental agreements, there is little reason to anticipate widespread eagerness to purchase the land.

Meanwhile, the owners of the land would not be in a position to find alternative potential buyers. This does not mean that land reform would not produce any kind of land market. There is plenty of free and unburdened agricultural land in Ukraine. However, we should not expect the kind of land sales boom that some of the more optimistic analysts are now predicting.

Fewer Buyers Means Lower Prices 

What would be the optimal form of land reform for Ukraine’s economic development? The most advantageous approach might be one that makes the title to land negotiable. Leaseholds, freeholds and any other title to land make sense when the law allows for the sale, mortgage, or transfer of the land to a successor. Cancelling the current moratorium on the sale of agricultural land will not boost the Ukrainian agriculture sector or fuel broader economic growth if the new legislation effectively creates a new moratorium. By making the circle of potential buyers prohibitively narrow, Ukrainian MPs risk doing a disservice to the landowners they claim to be trying to protect. As any student of economics will tell you, fewer buyers means lower prices.

One solution may be changes to the laws governing leaseholds that would provide greater security and flexibility. Competition between tenants will always be better for the landowners themselves. Implementation of clear and workable laws on the transfer and mortgage of leaseholds to land could serve as an even more meaningful land reform than the cancellation of the longstanding and controversial moratorium.

We can now expect these issues to dominate the political arena throughout May and into summer 2017 as Ukrainians debate the pros and cons of efforts to put the hallowed Black Earth of Ukraine up for sale.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at : com.ua

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1. Tricky Law about Ukrainian Soil

in Economics 2017 · EN · Europe 2017 · EX-USSR · Finance 2017 · Industry · Nation 2017 · Politics 2017 · Ukraine 2017 53 views / 3 comments


GEOMETR.IT    bunews.com.ua


*IMF pressure has put agricultural land sales reform back on the Ukrainian political agenda

but proposed changes may prove disappointing

The government of Ukraine has revealed plans to trial a land registry system underpinned by blockchain.

In a government meeting on Wednesday, Maksym Martyniuk, First Deputy Minister of Agricultural Policy and Food, unveiled the pilot project, planned to start in October. According to local media reports, the scheme will introduce blockchain to the Eastern European country’s State Land Cadastre and digitize auctions for leases of state land.

The news follows Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman’s recent commitment to hold auctions for all state land leases going forward – a move aimed to increase competition, boost the local economy and reduce illicit activities. Warning of potential «criminal punishment» for non-compliance with the policy, the Prime Minister said at the time:

«Any land that is provided must be provided at auctions.” 

About 71% of Ukrainian territory (42.7 million hectares) falls under the category of agricultural land. 

Over 10 million hectares of this is owned by the state, comprising around 25% of the total amount of agricultural land. 

According to a 2015 research project financed by the World Bank and launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Agricultural Policy of Ukraine, the State Land Cadaster Center and a number of state authorities, the current state of land management in Ukraine is alarming:

Public land registration is considerably lower than for private property (24% vs 71%), reducing transparency and allowing for illicit activities.

The level of lease payment for agricultural land is one of the lowest in Europe and the Russian Commonwealth (about $37 in 2015), negatively affecting the incomes of rural landowners and causing inefficient use of land resources.

The land market is very depressed, mainly due to the lack of financial instruments and the complexities of using land as collateral. The main way of transferring property rights to agricultural land is via leases, where there is a big «shadow market.»

The number of land taxpayers (about 7.3 million) is much lower than the number of private landowners and land users.

Ukraine is not the first country to consider using blockchain in the land registry process. In March this year, Sweden’s land registry authority launched a trial for recording property deals. And, in May, the UK Land Registry detailed its plans for a so-called ‘Digital Street’, listing blockchain technology as one of the underlying technologies for the trial.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at : com.ua

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