The introduction of an agricultural land market in Ukraine, against the backdrop of the economic crisis and without ensuring proper tools to protect land fertility, will turn Ukraine into a mere raw material supplier country, Chairman of the Agrarian Party of Ukraine Vitaliy Skotsyk said.
He was commenting on the Ukrainian president`s initiative to speed up the introduction of the land market.
”Amid the crisis, the authorities must seek to stimulate production, which will create jobs and increase people`s incomes. This is not happening,” he said.
”Over the past year and a half, some 500,000 enterprises were shut down and 2.5 million Ukrainians lost their jobs. The Ukrainian citizen lives on $1.50 a day. Approximately, it is the same amount people in the poorest African countries spend to survive,” Skotsyk added.
”We must engage in stimulating the economy. But the authorities are considering the land market as a way of filling the state coffers. Ukrainians already saw themselves robbed in the early 1990s, when the entire industry was placed into the hands of a few families. Now they want to do the same thing with land. [They want] to turn Ukraine into a semi-feudal raw material supplier, where most of its people become peasants,” Skotsyk said.
The Agrarian Party leader also named three main prerequisites for the introduction of the land market. Without fulfilling these requirements, it is not even expedient to start discussions on the issue, according to Skotsyk.
”First, we need legislation that will ensure an appropriate turnover of agricultural land, protect soil fertility and ensure the preservation of fertile black soil, limit single family land ownership to 300-500 ha and prohibit land ownership by foreigners,” he said.
”Also, there should be a specialized body, the Land Bank, which will oversee the efficient use of land. Second, we need a clear and predictable economic policy, with taxes that will seek to stimulate, and not undermine production. That is when a person is able to attract a long-term loan at 5-7% per annum to be able to cultivate land,” he said.
”Third, we need to complete judicial reform and significantly reduce the level of corruption. A well-functioning free market is impossible without a fair trial,” Skotsyk stated.
”Currently, we rank 130 out of 168 in the corruption ranking. Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries,” he said.
Skotsyk stressed that the issue of the land market introduction has to be put to a referendum.
”The authorities are afraid because they know that today 85% of Ukrainians are opposed to the land market. But under the Constitution, only the people have the right to decide the fate of the national wealth,” the Agrarian Party chairman stressed.