Agricultural land: Draft law allowing foreigners to buy land is ready

Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimovic says foreigners will be able to buy arable land in Serbia only if they are residents, and only up to two hectares.

In order to exercise this right, Nedimovic told the daily Blic, they would have to go through “rigorous control by the state authorities”.

This is all stipulated in the draft version of the Law on Agricultural Land, which must be adopted by September 1, as one of Serbia’s obligation under the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).  

Asked whether this means that land will not be sold to foreigners before 2027, the minister replied affirmatively. 

“Yes, it means that, but also it means fulfilling our obligations towards Brussels, as Ana Brnabic and Aleksandar Vucic said in their inauguration speeches. We will not easily give arable land away because of the national interest,” Nedimovic has been quoted as saying. 

When the interviewer noted that Serbia must still allow the sale of land – although it did not know when or if it would become an EU member – and when asked “under what conditions” this will be done, Nedimovic said that the conditions would be “strict.” 

“We have extended the deadline regarding residency status from seven to ten years. During that time, they (prospective owners) will be under the control of state authorities to prove they are not just passing through our country. They will also have to own their own agricultural equipment, and be registered as an active agricultural farmstead,” he said. 

When asked “what will happen with legal entities or foreign companies,” he replied: “It is stipulated in the Constitution that foreign companies that are not registered here are prohibited from buying land.” 

Nedimovic assessed that “there is enough time” for the law to be passed by September 1. “The government will adopt it (the draft) these days, and after that it will be forwarded to the Assembly for a debate,” he said. 

Asked “what is happening with PKB and whether the government has defined a privatization model, Nedimovic said that a privatization advisor had been selected, and that there was a task force in the Ministry of Economy”, formed especially for that purpose.

“Cattle production (at PKB) must be preserved, because 30 percent of the best quality milk comes from PKB,” Nedimovic said, adding that the state would insist on a strategic partnership, to keep its influence in the company. 

When the reporter remarked that the state as leased Germany’s Toennies “the first hectares of land” and asked whether this was done for any of Serbia’s large land owners as well, Nedimovic said that “Serbian tycoons have not received land nor will they – because they missed the point, when it comes to their homework.” 

“They wanted land for the sake of land, and we were not giving arable land for something that does not have a processing character,” he said. 

(B92, 31.07.2017)



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