The plan to begin the trade of state agricultural land from 2017 is laid down in the 2016 Program of Action for the Government published on March 14.
Yet it was not too long ago, on November 10, 2015, to be precise, that the Verkhovna Rada extended the moratorium on the trade of agricultural land until January 1, 2017. And back then, the Speaker of the Parliament Vladimir Groysman stated that he supported the moratorium extension.
How does one explain such rush with the land sale and the repeal of moratorium? We asked Andrii Derkach, Member of Parliament of Ukraine and the member of the Budget Committee of the Verkhovna Rada, to comment on the situation.
“Such statements and plans are a testament to one thing only – the unquenched desire of our pseudo-reformers and “euro-optimists” to completely ruin the economy and destroy the state in their quest to please “foreign partners”, the International Monetary Fund, and fill up their own nesting boxes. What else can it offer, this useless cabinet filled with “foreign tourists” that live in the imaginary world of their own creation, a world impossibly far away from Ukrainian reality and the daily needs of our people?
They have carried out a forced deindustrialization of the country, demolished the industry, destroyed the state machine, and caused the total impoverishment of the socially vulnerable population. They keep tormenting doctors, teachers, private entrepreneurs, farmers. And now they have decided to put the final nail in the coffin of our rural economy. All of their populist empty promises of happy European life by European standards, with abundance of products and incomes to match are still nothing more than a fairytale for the naïve.
As for the land, treating it like an ordinary commodity in Ukraine is simply immoral. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had an entirely different mindset, they treated the land with love and trepidation, they called it their breadwinner. Because the land has and will always be a strategic resource of special value, the main source of our nation’s wealth, the foundation of sovereignty and the real, as opposed to imitative, independence of our country.
Let me remind our “European democrats” that Articles 13 and 14 of our Constitution deal with land and they declare it subject to property right of Ukrainian people and a main national treasure subject to the state’s primary protection. Therefore, I am certain that the matter of trade of agricultural land and the repeal of moratorium is not for the Prime Minister and his bunch of “travelling circus actors” in the Government to decide. It should be up to the people at the All-Ukrainian referendum. Because it is theirs, the people’s, constitutional right, and it belongs to no one else. And to suggest otherwise is, frankly, a crime against not only millions of Ukrainians living now, but everyone who will live on our land in 50, 100 years as well.
In my opinion, this current situation is very reminiscent of 2012, when Yanukovich and his “clan” intended to repeal “land moratorium” and began to sway the organizational and informational tide in the Government, the Parliament, and media in their favor. Yatseniuk tried to sway the very same tide in the last days before his dismissal. He was swaying it for the same reasons too: in his own self-interest and the ones of his “clan” – “foreign tourist” ministers, IMF sponsors, foreign “investors” and partners. This is a very dangerous situation repeating itself and the problem does not end with the Prime Minister’s dismissal.
Currently, the land prices in Ukraine keep plummeting catastrophically, along with the wealth of our rural residents. Virtually all important social programs have been cancelled, the living standards of the population keep dropping, 40% of food production has risen in price, the inflation rates keep increasing. Our “reformers” predict a 12% inflation rate by the end of the year. Meanwhile, actual experts voice a completely different number altogether – 30%. Basically, they have created perfect conditions to facilitate the purchase of land by both our own and Western tycoons virtually for free.
Average price of a hectare in the EU is $16.000, specifically: $8.000 in Poland, $15.000 in Spain, $7.000 in France. In Ukraine it amounts to $1.000, which is an average. Actual selling price of land starts at $500 and lower, for a hectare. Take into consideration that the humus areas in Ukraine are among the biggest in the world – 28 million ha., while 32 million ha. of the overall area of agricultural land (42 million ha.) are farmed annually.
What is even worse in this dreadful state of affairs is that we conduct absolutely no reforms in the agriculture whatsoever: there are no state support programs for the agricultural sectors, which fund the budget; for farms; loans for farmers; social and cultural projects. The repeal of moratorium and land sale will completely devastate the rural hard workers. The money obtained from the land sale definitely will not be enough neither to start their own business, nor to get a loan, nor to purchase or build a house. All these fairytales, fables and toasts about land sale “in the farmers’ best interest”, which the quick-witted local ‘landlords’ keep feeding everyone at the conferences and receptions with the assistance of the bribed “experts and successful farmers” are blatant lies! As of now, no conditions have been created for this to be the case in Ukraine.
Instead, there are plenty conditions that enable only the extremely rich wholesale buyers to buy out entire land shares, turn them into new allotments for sale, and then sell them for ridiculously outrageous prices. Blatant plunder and complete devastation of the rural residents constitute the singular purpose and agenda behind the so-called “land reform” created by the departing “pro-European government team”.
All the noise around the state land sale and the repeal of moratorium, which has been getting increasingly louder throughout our cities and regions is more than just an advertisement for the Government’s plan, which contradicts national interests. It constitutes an appalling disregard of the Constitution and preparation for a massive crime to be committed against Ukrainian people and its future. One has to admit that we will have to fight for our land, just like back during the war. But there is no other way if we truly want to be independent and accomplished.
Instead of squandering the most valuable national treasure, true patriots fight poverty, create new employment forms, develop infrastructural and social projects in the rural areas. I have already drafted these projects and presented them in the form of laws. The European Business Association and the International Monetary Fund also oppose the Government’s plans.
You are going to say that the current team is departing and things are going to be different now. But they will not! There is a new team coming to replace the last one and it is just the same: it ignores the interests of regular citizens; it works in tune with the agenda of foreign holdings and certain local tycoons.
The coalition, which the President’s faction and “People’s Front” are desperately trying to set up, akin to a Brazilian soap opera, will pose an even bigger threat to Ukraine’s economy and prove to be short-lived. We are talking about mere replacement of several ministers, instead of what needs to be done: an alteration of tragic course of economic collapse chosen by nationalist euro-optimists, Russophobes, representatives of parties of big businesses and blind trusts; a course, which has replaced actual efforts to create jobs and improve our people’s lives”, Andrii Derkach summarized with regard to the issue.