The adoption of a historic bill to lift the ban on buying and selling Ukraine’s farmland may be delayed for weeks or even for months, as the Ukrainian parliament has to review 4,018 amendments before submitting the bill for the second reading and actually voting for it.
On Feb. 6–7, the lawmakers reviewed only 216 amendments and approved only one of them. The lawmakers will continue reviewing the rest of the amendments only on Feb. 18.
“If we move with such speed, (the adoption of this law) will happen only on April 16–17,” David Arakhamia, the head of the parliamentary faction of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, told journalists on Feb. 7.
On Nov. 13, the Ukrainian parliament passed the bill in the first reading. If it is adopted in the second reading and signed by Zelensky, it will introduce a land market by removing the existing ban on sales of agricultural land.
This would also mean that the county finally won’t stay among the last six countries in the world with no land market, including North Korea and Congo.
However, after several mass protests held against the adoption of the law and after agricultural experts showed their strong concerns about it, the parliament decided it would go through every amendment introduced by lawmakers from all political parties after the first reading in November.
The process of reviewing these amendments on Feb. 6 was even more difficult because of the strong political opposition from the pro-Russian Opposition Platform – For Life and Batkivshchyna parties. The leader of the latter, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, believes that the bill betrays the interests of Ukrainians. The lawmakers from her Batkivshchyna party even blocked the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada on Feb. 6 in protest.
“I stood there to let people know that our team and the country are against the sale of land during the war (against Russia in eastern Ukraine),” said Tymoshenko during a press briefing on Feb. 6.
At the same time, the World Bank estimates that by lifting the moratorium on farmland sales and introducing the open land market Ukraine can boost its economy by up to 2%.
Tymofiy Mylovanov, Ukraine’s economy minister, believes that Ukrainian political parties can still work together on the bill.
“Despite the confrontation we see today, I hope that after the adoption of the land bill, we will work constructively with all factions and political parties,” Mylovanov said on Feb. 6.
As the parliament delayed passing this bill, other bills will be delayed too, according to Oleksandr Kornienko, chairman of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party.
“The adoption of the law will slow down the implementation of other reforms, but we know whom to thank for that,” said Kornienko, referring to the leaders and lawmakers from Opposition Platform – For Life and Batkivshchyna.