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Draft Law 2576: Triumph of Separatism in Land Relations

 

     Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on November 20, 2007 registered quite remarkable draft law 2576 submitted by People’s Deputies V. Pisarenko (BYUT), R. Knyazevitch (Nasha Ukraina), V. Lukyanov (Party of Regions) and V. Silchenko (Socilaist Part).

     First of all, remarkable is “broad coalitional” nature of the draft – so, broad coalition come into existence, and we missed that event? If some Communist joined the drafting of that masterpiece of coalitional legislative creativity, we could conclude that there is the broadest coalition of all possible coalitions in the Parliament. Fact that there are all factions among authors of the draft except for Communists points out either at creation of new broad anti-Anticrisis coalition or at formation of new faction consisting of authors of the draft 2576. About 3 per cent of our compatriots may think that Communists refused to take part in this disgrace # 2576. We think that they were not invited. We also conclude that our Deputies may be joined only by common interests and not by any programs, leaders or voters outrage.

     Secondly, remarkable (or rather shocking) is the content of the draft, especially as regards new understanding of the competence of local self-governance. Authors suggested granting to local Radas (Verkhovna Rada of Crimea, Oblast Radas, Kyiv and Sevastopol city Radas) right to define peculiarities of disposal of lands, withdrawal (buy-out), allocation, transfer into ownership, cancellation of use right, change of use-purpose, limitation and temporary prohibition (stoppage) and cancellation of use of land plots on respective territories. About the essence of these peculiarities and about any link between them and laws of Ukraine we may only guess, because draft 2576 is omitting these issues.

     In our opinion, granting of such right to the said radas lays foundations for creation of separate legal regimes of land relations in 27 administrative and territorial units (24 Oblasts, Crimea, Kyiv and Sevastopol). This legal separatism means rejection of unified legal regime of land relations established by the Land Code of Ukraine. So, in the context of land relations Ukraine will turn from a unitary state into a sum of feudal states formally united by a common flag…

     Strange as it is, but the Constitution of Ukraine says that foundations of use of natural resources are defined by laws of Ukraine only. It means that the foundations must not be defined by anything else, like decisions of local self-governance. That is why authors of the draft used a word “peculiarities” – here you go, People’s Deputies, let you define foundations, and we here will define “peculiarities” by our local decisions. We believe that many our problems of the last 15 years may be explained by the fact that one state body defines in principle good “foundations” and ten other state bodies plunder them with their “peculiarities”. Any “peculiarities” are ground for inequality, distortion of competition, abuse of power, and that is why peculiarities shall be established under exceptional circumstances and shall affect those who are not equal under equal conditions (incapacitated persons, retired persons, former prisoners etc.). Our “peculiarities” scare away foreign and local investments, hinder social and economic development of the country.

     Outcomes of the draft 2576 approval will be creation of significant barriers to investment activities, growth of corruption in and criminalization of land relations, distortion of competition, and limitation of rights of communities of settlements over their land resources.

     Ukrainian Land Code contains Chapter X “Transition Rules”. In our opinion, the title of Chapter X shall become a title of the whole Code, because Land Code in fact has transitional nature and is better adapted to regulate land relations and economy dominated by the state. Business may not effectively develop if conclusion of a lease contract for a piece of and takes 1.5 year (provided local Rada is favorable), if any action of an owner of land requires a permission of some official. Numerous permission and approvals provided by the Code is not keeping the law intact – they consume time and money of investors and the state is losing confidence of citizens. Let us enrich our imperfect system with unlimited “peculiarities” provided for by the draft 2576, and land relations will turn into an inmost zone, access into which is allowed only to few chosen.
 

Max Fedorchenko, Alex Yanov, Center for Land Reform Policy in Ukraine

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