Latvia plans restrictions on land ownership

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Baltic Business News | 26.03.2013

Latvia plans restrictions on land ownership

The Latvian government is planning tougher restrictions on selling land, which may affect foreign investors, writes news2biz LATVIA.

Running extended articles about foreigners who buy up Latvian land for pennies, the Latvian press has, in a slightly xenophobic manner, already suggested that the new regulations aim to cut sales to foreigners.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture maintains that the regulations are not aimed at maintaining the national purity of the Latvian countryside and aim to ensure that Latvian agricultural land and forests are used productively.

Among others, Latvia may introduce the right of first refusal for the relatives of the seller and owners of neighbouring land plots. The potential buyers could also be asked to present a plan for the use of the land to the local government, which would then decide whether to allow it.
The ministry says that the changes could be forwarded to the government within the next months.

The government is also working on a state-owned land fund, which could buy agricultural land from the owners who want to sell it and then eventually lease it to other farmers who want to use it.

"Our aim is to use each hectar of agricultural land for profitable agricultural production," says Arvids Ozols, head of Forestry Department at the Latvian Ministy of Agriculture, to news2biz. "We are not planning to restrict the purchase of agricultural land, but we do plan regulations to make sure that the land is used productively."

"Right now, the ministry is working on regulations that would keep the land for its designated purpose, that is, agricultural land for agriculture and forest for forestry," he explains. "The regulations would ensure that the buyers of the land know how to use and can use it effectively. These regulations are needed to cut down speculative deals and encourage that land is owned by those who use it for production."
Original source: Baltic Business News
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