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Lázár: Government to sell 300,000 hectares of farmland

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MTI / Attila Kovács

The Hungarian government has decided to sell 300,000-380,000 hectares of state-owned farmland to farmers who are Hungarian citizens and reside in Hungary, Minister János Lázár said yesterday at his weekly press conference.

Minister János Lázár speaks at his weekly press conference, held yesterday. (Photo: MTI/Attila Kovács)

Farmlands smaller than three hectares will be offered for sale, while larger plots will be available on open auctions, the minister said. The reserve price at the auctions will be set at 10% over the local market price, if the reserve is not met, the land will not be sold, Hungarian news agency MTI reported.

According to Lázár, state-owned land that is currently being leased by farmers will also be put up for sale, but land lease contracts will not be affected by the sales. Farmers who have, for at least three years, worked on leased land that is put up for auction will have pre-emption rights to the land, but must match the winning bid, Lázár reportedly added. Buyers will be limited to purchasing 300 hectares of state land, and buyers may not sell the land to any party other than the state for 20 years, MTI reported.

The government’s privatization of the aforementioned farmland is being criticized by the opposition as “another move” by ruling party Fidesz to help those who are “loyal” and “close” to the party, Hungarian weekly HVG’s reports in its feature story.

György Raskó, who is currently an agricultural entrepreneur but used to be the state secretary of agriculture for the leftist government between 2005-2010, told the weekly that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “considers agriculture a political tool and not an economic tool,” which contributes to the Hungarian GDP less than the capacity of one single automotive plant.

Greenparty LMP criticized the privatization calling it “the most significant public property robbery of the last two decades,” weekly HVG reports.

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