by  Kholiskhon Umarova
Source of picture:
August 31, 2021


On June 8, 2021, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree “On measures to ensure equality and transparency in land relations, reliable protection of rights to land and their transformation into market assets.” Along with several changes in land relations mentioned in the decree, the authority of district governors to allocate land directly is abolished. It is also prohibited to seize, reserve, or transfer land with any document. This means, from August 1, 2021, some rights on land of local governors will be restricted, and such restrictions will also affect the process of purchasing and leasing land. So what is the reason behind such a change?

Main cause

According to Article 10 of the Law ” On local state authority,” provincial governors could allocate land to businesses, institutions, organizations, farms, and citizens to own or lease. At the same time, they had a right to revoke the right of these subjects to hold and use land. Thus, the governors independently decided the “fate” of the lands in the respective areas for a long time. However, some officials had abuse of power cases, which resulted in the looting of thousands of plots of land. Speaking at a press conference at the AIMC (Agency of Information and Mass Communication), Deputy Prosecutor General Shavkatjon Rakhimov said that more than 120,000 hectares of land had been over the past two years looted or misappropriated, and prosecutors have protested to cancel more than 7,500 land decisions. Criminal proceedings have been instituted against 588 people.

The participants of such crimes were mainly the governors and officials around them, who promised to issue a decision of the relevant district governor in exchange for bribes to those who wished to acquire land. For example, an employee of the directorate for the management of small zones under the authority of Andijan region with his two partners received 128 thousand US dollars to help a local citizen have 100 hectares of land to set up a farm. Another employee of an LLC told a resident to buy a 4-hectare plot of land in the northern small industrial zone of Andijan for $ 7,500. While receiving $ 3,400 in advance were detained by law enforcement agencies. One more crime took place in the Khazarasp district of the Khorezm region. According to the Kun. uz, four farms – “Sadoqat Sarvar,” “Aziza Charoskhan,” “Javokhir Mohinur Charos,” “Sherzod Aminboy Alisher Azizbek” in Khazarasp were returned to the reserve of the district administration. According to the mayor’s office (local authority), the heads of the farms “voluntarily” submitted a written application to transfer their land to the reserve of the district administration. However, the investigation revealed that farmers did not write such a statement, but an “unknown person illegally falsified the documents.” A criminal case was initiated with Article 228 on Criminal Code (manufacture, falsification, sale or use of documents, stamps, seals, blanks), and an “unknown person” was given to search. The four farms mentioned above were allocated to new farmers as reserve lands following Article 78 of the Land Code. Although the courts ruled that the Khazarasp district governor’s decision was invalid, the owners did not receive back the land yet. Because to return these lands to their owners, they must first be taken away from their current owners, which is a violation of the rights of the new owners of the land.

These indicate that there were many shortcomings in giving power of realization of land to the hands of governors.

What changes are expected from the new Presidential decree on August 1, 2021?

The presidential decree will deprive governors of the following rights:

  • Direct allocation of land plots, their use, reservation for future distribution, attachment, transfer for beautification or other management of lands;
  • Establishment, recognition, change, cancellation of rights to land plots by district and city local state authorities;
  • Transfer of irrigated lands to non-irrigated lands or other land categories, non-irrigated agricultural lands to different land categories;
  • Allocation of land for community gardening, viticulture, and horticulture, as well as ancillary agriculture;
  • The establishment of investment obligations and the restriction of the free disposal of privatized land plots.

This is now forbidden for local governors to transfer land to citizens, businesses, organizations by making an immediate decision. Instead, agricultural land will be sold through an open electronic tender, and non-agricultural land will be sold through an online electronic auction with the right of ownership or lease. Although district governors have been deprived of direct land allocation, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, governors of regions, and Tashkent city saving a right to approve the results of the open electronic tender for agricultural lands. However, according to the President’s press service, all decisions of regional governors on land relations will be subject to legal review by the Department of Justice. In addition, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, governors of regions, and the city of Tashkent will provide state organizations with land plots for state and public needs with the right of permanent use their decision. For example, if a public school is being opened in a remote area, the land area will not be available at auction because the school serves the needs of the state and society, not for private gain.

The decree also states that, as an exception, the Cabinet of Ministers may lease land directly in the following cases:

• For use in agricultural research with the suggestion of the Ministry of Agriculture;

• Agro-industrial clusters on the proposal of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, the governor of the region, when depositing twice the normative value of the land;

• To implement a large investment project with a value of at least $ 10 million (increased by the size of the land), determined by selecting the best offer;

• To enterprises with foreign investment, international associations and organizations, foreign legal entities, and individuals – with market value for the right to lease (excluding international associations and organizations).

Of these exceptions, in the past, as an experiment in the capital, the city administration had the right to allocate land directly to investors without any competition to increase investment attractiveness and involve more foreign investors. However, the test lasted for two years and did not justify itself, revealing corruption cases. The new decree stipulates that the only Cabinet of Ministers will have the authority to allocate land to investors.


The new decree has become a historic decree for our country, aimed at regulating land relations. The decree will significantly change the ownership of land, which has not changed for many years, including the procedures for the purchase and lease of land. Of course, not all issues can be resolved by a single decree. Even the decree itself is not strong enough in some cases. For example, as we mentioned above, the realization of land has not been transferred to a fully electronic-auction regime. There are still some exceptions. For example, the Cabinet of Ministers does not open tenders to implement agro-industrial clusters and large investment projects. At the same time, many people are worried about the allocation of land to foreign investors because the land is the main wealth of the state. However, the Minister of Justice has responded by saying that in many countries, the government’s allocation of land to investors is done by the government and is well-thought-out. According to R. Davletov‘s (Minister of Justice) speech, investors can only get uncultivated land (land not used for agriculture). But the decree did not disclose this. In the decree, there is no definite information about the type of land given to investors.

Also, there are some gaps in the use of land based on public-private partnerships. In particular, in implementing public-private partnership projects and projects aimed at achieving socially beneficial goals, it is planned to allocate land plots to the state organization with the right of permanent use. However, this could lead to “coordinated” activities of commercial groups with the authorities. And this may lead public officials and their business partners to dispose of land under the guise of public-private partnership.

All in all, the decree laid only the foundation for reforms to improve land relations. Moreover, to organize the decree’s implementation, the Ministry of Justice prepared three documents, one presidential decree, and three government decisions. But more remains could be done to reform and redistribute land to its rightful owners. For example, the Parliament should amend and supplement the relevant provisions of the current legislation, including the Land Code. The issue of returning illegally allocated lands and the order of punitive measures for guilty should be considered well. As a proposal to the legislation, if public officials are financially liable for damage caused by their decision, the number of offenses may also decrease.

Cite as: Kholiskhon Umarova, “A new presidential decree on land allocation: “Land can only be sold or leased through an auction.” Issues of purchase and lease of state lands in the new decree”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 31.08.2021.