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New law for agricultural land sale

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Monday, September 22
The Government of Georgia has approved a draft law that outlines new rules for land registration for foreigners.

The draft law on Agriculture Land Ownership was arranged by the Minister of Justice following consultations with industry insiders, including international experts.

Georgian Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani stated that according to the new rule, a company founded abroad or other legal entity will be unable to buy agricultural land.

"It will be not be possible to sell agricultural land to foreign physical entities or foreign companies, even if they were established in Georgia, within a five-kilometer line along the border of the country and in the zones established by the government," Tsulukiani stressed.

However, foreigners who receive land by inheritance can become owners.

"This will allow many compatriots, deprived of Georgian citizenship, but having the citizenship of another country and considered foreigners now, to receive inherited land," the minister added.

The government believes that the new law is balanced and defends both the country's and foreign investor's interests.

Parliament passed a temporary legal ban restricting non-Georgian citizens from purchasing or inheriting agricultural land in June 2013, until December 2014.

The temporary suspension of selling agriculture land to foreigners was removed in June this year following the verdict of the Constitution Court of Georgia that requested the withdrawal of the provision to suspend sale of agriculture land to foreign nationals.

The moratorium generated fierce opposition from foreign citizens, as well as opposition parties who said the decision would halt Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Georgia.

The government imposed the moratorium to avoid the real threat of irrational privatization of land, which may have had a negative consequence on the country's economic security, environmental protection and national security. According to the government, it could have significantly damaged the rural population.

The government coalition promised people in the 2012 election campaign that they would stop the selling of agricultural land and last year they solved the issue by announcing a moratorium on selling such lands to foreign citizens.