Kozak Seeks Residential Land Fund

Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak has proposed the creation of a Residential Construction Fund, which would take land from federal government bodies and give it to the regions to develop housing, Vedomosti reported Monday.

The proposal, which was circulated among the ministries for approval late last week, would seek to distribute 500,000 to 1 million hectares of land for residential building projects and factories producing construction materials, the newspaper said, citing a copy of the bill.

Then-First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposed creating such a fund in April, saying "millions" of hectares of inefficiently used land owned by the federal government, state companies and the Russian Academy of Sciences should be transferred to the regions, Vedomosti reported.

Governors would submit applications for developing a particular plot of land. If the application met the necessary criteria — which are still being developed by the ministry — the regional government would then auction the plot for ownership or long-term lease.

The bill also stipulates measures to ensure that the transfers benefit regional housing development.

Governors will be required to guarantee that the region builds the necessary social infrastructure, while local governments will be responsible for building technical infrastructure, the report said. If the region does not provide the necessary support, the funds from the auctions will be sent to the federal budget, instead of the regional budget. And if the land goes unused for a year, the fund will take it back.

The fund would need the regional development minister's approval for major decisions, the newspaper said. Its director would be appointed for a three-year term by the government.

A nine-member oversight committee would include two presidential representatives, four from the government, one each from the State Duma and Federation Council, and one from the Public Chamber.