Georgian Lands Divesture Suspended Partially
28 February, 2013
Georgian Lands Divesture Suspended Partially
Divesture of Georgian lands in the state ownership is put on halt until the land code is elaborated and the land privatization details are worked out precisely. But private lands remain beyond the state control that makes sector pundits worry.
Crown Immigration Consultancy Services Pvt.Ltd, an Indian-based company involved in the promotion of privately owned Georgian lands for sale to foreigners [from India and Egypt mainly] may go ahead with its activity until the L
and Code elaborating the land strategy and privatization details will be worked out in Georgia. Georgian authorities do not specify even tentative date when the said law will be ready but accentuate that the focus will fall on attraction of investments within Georgian lands rather than divesting them out on easy terms to local and foreign residents alike as the currently active legislation allows.
“The state has not sold out any agriculture-land spot during the last three-four months,” Dimitri Kumsishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, accentuated during the press-conference on February 20, 2013, held in response to the public discontent that followed the advertising of video-shot put by Crown Immigration Consultancy Services on youtube.com. Saini Dharmjit, an Indian citizen and employee of Crown Immigration, in the video-shot touts his compatriots in to purchase Georgian agriculture lands put on sale in Kakheti region, one of the most fertile soils of Georgia, and speaks on advantages of purchasing land in Georgia, as well as employing cheap labor. Saini Dharmjit’s YouTube account features 19 videos, almost all of them on the topic of Georgian agriculture and land. Videos have been uploaded at various dates, with the oldest one dated last year. The videos have been watched up to 50 thousand times, with viewers also contacting the Dharmijth in comments. The company also worked on lands in Tbilisi providing consultancy service to Georgian buyers too however they were very few.
The fact that Georgian lands are in demand and easily available to foreigners embarrassed Georgian society however the sector pundits warned of this long ago. They assure the fact is a logic follow up of pseudo-liberal approach of Georgian government practiced violently since 2006 after the liberally inclined Rose Revolution government reformed the law on land privatization [in 2005] and allowed non-resident private and legal entities to own lands in Georgia under certain conditions: if President of Georgia gave out a special consent on the land divesture; if ethnical [non-resident] Georgian was a founder of legal entities registered in Georgia, if non-resident entities bought lands on temporary [six-month] ownership that must be sold on local entities after the permitted-term expires. However, ex-power found these restrictions as inhumane and anti-constitutional. As a result, Constitutional Court of Georgia made the said restrictions void by its decision drawn on June 26, 2012 stating that the questioned paragraphs were violating human rights that are equal in spite of citizenship. Commensurately, Georgian lands became completely available while all countries globe over including the most democratic countries put out quite extensive restrictions on land divesture to even their own citizens while the rules are so sophisticated to foreigners that it makes almost impossible to acquire lands.
According to Paata Koguashvili, an agriculture sector analyst and former MP, no country in the world except Georgia practices such nonchalant attitude toward the land issue. The EU theoretically allows its member-state citizens to purchase lands within the EU space but practically it is almost impossible for multiple preferences [for locals] and requirements. The newly joined EU member-states announced a 10-15-year moratorium and suspended divesture of lands on non-residents completely. The land-deficient Georgia meantime eagerly has been selling out agriculture or construction land-spots out on non-resident investors just for nothing sometimes for GEL 1. The land divesture on foreigners sometimes was done on the expense of neglecting interest of Georgian landowners and violation of their property rights. The excuse was attraction of investments in the country.
Koghuashvili believes this was a grab of Georgian lands and crime against own nation implemented within the legal framework.
According to economic ministry, 18 700 hectares (ha) of lands were sold totally in 2011-2012 however the governmental body does not provide with the statistics who bought the lands locals or foreigners and under what terms. Nobody can say how much of Georgian lands are already sold to foreigners for lands registration/cadastre is not implemented since 2004.
Paata Sheshelidze, President of New Economic School, sees no jeopardy at all in free divesture of lands if owners will work on the lands properly.
“Are foreigners supposed to take the land away? What is the problem if they cultivate the land that you sell because you cannot work on it,” he told Georgian Journal.
Koghuashvili argues the process is catastrophic for it may put historical Georgian population into minority in the own country as lands are sold cheaply and interest [specifically of Chinese and Indians] are high. He suggests announcing a moratorium on land-sale however new power only partly suspended the land divesture process: the state owned lands will be barred for sale until the land code will be worked out. As to private lands, the state has no constitutional levers as of yet to control the private deals and promises to build due tools in the new law that most probably will give preferences to local population as landowners. The Crown Immigration’s activity will be researched. Koghuashvili believes authorities have to take much stricter position.
“This is a crime against nation and we should not wave a tail to the so called liberal things and the west. The western countries undertake quite stringent policy and forget all the liberal theories immediately when it comes to their national interests. We should act similarly,” he said and stressed on moratorium.

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EUR
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