Lands Status Change Gets Complicated
01 August, 2013
To prevent the sale of agricultural lands under the changed status, Georgian government created more complicated mechanism for status change: apart from the registry approval for status change, now land owners need governmental approval too.
No landowner will be able to change the status of agricultural land into non-agricultural because besides the national registry’s consent, their claim should be approved by governmental order. Georgian authorities decided to make the lands’ status change stricter, after requests on amending agricultural lands into
non-agricultural ones, flooded the registry. The trend upsurge shortly after moratorium was imposed on agricultural lands’ sale until the end of 2014 a week ago. According to Zurab Tkemaladze, Head of Sector of Economy and Economy Policy Committee at the Parliament, 61 applications were registered only within two days. The sector pundits believe this is an attempt to bypass the moratorium and be able to sell lands out. But government cut out this channel too.
“A person who owns agricultural land and wants to change the status to non-agriculture is required to present a project explaining the purpose why he/she wants to get the status of non-agricultural land,” Tkemaladze elaborates. He believes the new remedy will make land status change procedure more complicated that will prevent lands sale. Paata Sheshelidze, President of New Economic School, assures landowners will seek for more remedies to bypass the moratorium that seems not legal to him as far as it prevents landowners to dispose with their lands at their own discretion that falls out of the European values.
“It is not fair that government prohibits a proprietor to sell his/her own land, may be they need that to cover their medical treatment related expenses?” Sheshelidze said. “I have predicted that the moratorium on lands sale would have trigger landowners to seek for way to bypass the law.”
Georgian government put a moratorium on agricultural lands sale until the end of 2014 as far as lands cadastre is not completed in Georgia and therefore divesture of lands was very weakly regulated and available to anyone including foreign citizens. Now government plans to get through lands cadastre during the moratorium as well as work out proper lands sale and disposal regulating law. Sheshelidze counters that moratorium only hinders its goal as far as divesture of lands far more effective way to accelerate lands cadastre and registration compared to moratorium.
“Nobody can sell his lands without registration so the divesture of lands might accelerate solution of the cadastre problem,” he said adding that this prohibition will undermine investments in agricultural sector. Shalva Melkadze, an agriculture analyst, believes moratorium cannot hamper the investments inflow as far as foreign investors need a strong legal base that did not exist in Georgia up to date. As a matter of fact investors cannot see a full picture in agriculture since there was no thorough inventory of lands and lands registration is also not completed. As a consequence, investors could not clearly see what kind of lands spot they were acquiring and who was an actual owner of the said land that led to courts very often. Melkadze believes the moratorium will solve the problem.