- Wind, Solar Investors Are Up Against the Wall
- China’s Sinohydro Pushes Back on Highway Contract
- IMF In No Rush to Resume Aid to Ukraine
- Covid Paralyzes Rogue Court
- Antonov Starts Building Planes Again
- Warm Weather Stretches Dnipro Shipping Season
Wind and solar investments account for one quarter of the €49 billion of foreign direct investment in Ukraine since Independence in 1991. However, €660 million in unpaid electricity bills is forcing foreign investors to renegotiate bank loans, mull bankruptcy and to pursue international litigation against Ukraine, participants told an Energy Talk webinar organized last week by the European Business Association. One Norwegian company, Scatec, is preparing litigation against Ukraine in London.
Carl Sturen, the Swedish managing director of wind power developer Vindkraft, said: “We are lagging behind on our payments and we definitely can’t wait.” Sergii Shakalov, CEO of Kness Group, a solar panel production plant launched in 2019 in Vinnytsia, says he has already lost $10 million due to non-payments. “One of the biggest problems of Ukraine is that it doesn’t comprehend that agreements should be fulfilled in any situation,” complained Shakalov, reports the Kyiv Post, a co-sponsor of the webinar.
The Government’s Guaranteed Buyer says it has paid all for renewable energy generated in August and for 93% of power produced in September. The press service of the Ministry of Energy reports that the green tariff reductions negotiated with renewable companies in July has saved consumers $53 million.
China’s Sinohydro Corporation Limited intends to file an international arbitration claim for Ukravtodor’s termination of its contract for construction of a bypass highway around Zhytomyr. Sinohydro was five months overdue on the project, delays the company blamed Covid disruptions and the tardy transfer of a key land plot by Ukraine’s state highway agency. The Chinese say that in September, a Dispute Resolution Council give them an extra three months to complete work by the end of this year. Sinohydro says Ukravtodor ignored a Dispute Council Nov. 2 back to work order. Instead, they say, Ukravtodor took possession of €8.5 million worth of bank guarantees and transferred the construction site to the regional highway authority.
Coming as Ukraine seeks public-private partnerships with foreign road construction companies, Sinohydro says its treatment should serve as a warning. “It is difficult for the company to understand why, over and over again, Ukravtodor similarly terminates agreements with contractors, including with other foreign companies,” the Chinese company said. “Sinohydro believes such actions of Ukravtodor will significantly weaken the desire of foreign contractors to participate in the construction projects of the state agency.”
The recent decision by Ukraine’s Constitutional Court to dismantle anti-corruption legislation is the biggest impediment to a restoration of IMF loans flows to Ukraine, Kyrylo Shevchenko, governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, told Voice of America in Washington after meeting with the IMF and World Bank. Other issues are: the mounting budget deficit and the work of the central bank after the summer changeover of leadership.
Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy reads between the lines of this “sobering statement” and concludes: “No IMF tranche in 2020, meaning IMF-related financing of Ukraine’s 2020 budget deficit (from the Fund, the EU and the World Bank) for a total amount of up to $2.5 billion won’t arrive this year. Therefore, the only viable way for Ukraine to try to fill its budget gap without such money is a massive issue of international Eurobonds. As soon as it becomes apparent to the government that no IMF-related money will come soon, it will be high time for Ukraine to prepare for the new bond issue.”
In London, Timothy Ash polled his Twitter followers about Ukraine’s IMF prospects. He posted on @tashecon this breakdown of the 260 replies: IMF money this year – 15%; IMF money in Q1 – 27%; IMF money in Q2 – 15%; unclear as major problems – 43%.
Covid accomplishes what Zelenskiy cannot. Covid has paralyzed the Constitutional Court, with the majority of the 15-member court “either sick or awaiting test results because they have symptoms of coronavirus,” a ‘source’ tells Interfax-Ukraine. One judge, Ihor Slidenko, tells the news agency: “I am reliably aware of two cases of COVID-19 among judges of the Constitutional Court.”
Zelenskiy and his chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, are being treated for Covid at Feofania Clinic, the southern Kyiv hospital reserved for high level officials. Two ministers reported this week that they also have Covid: Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko and Defense Minister Andriy Taran. Three presidential aides reportedly have recovered from Covid: Yulia Kovaliva, Roman Mashovets, and Serhiy Shefir.
With the nationwide ‘weekend lockdown’, there is scattered resistance. The leaders of Lviv, Rivne and Sloviansk say they will not follow the rules. Epicenter, one of the nation’s largest retailers, announced it is declaring a 72-hour Friday. Health Minister Maksym Stepanov announced a new peak of 11,057 new Covid cases – double the daily average of one month ago. Stepanov told reporters that Covid is spreading in Ukraine at a “hurricane rate.”
Upside of global warming: the shipping season on the Dnipro will be extended by two weeks this year, to Dec. 1, reports the State Maritime and River Transport Service. The four northernmost locks – Kyiv, Kaniv, Kremenchuk and Kamianske – had been scheduled to start closing last Sunday. Closing the river involves pulling out hundreds of buoys in a north-south sequence. But Kyiv is not forecast to see prolonged cold weather until mid-December. Last winter, serious ice only formed in January. Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krikliy said last week: “Our plans are to navigate the Dnipro throughout the year, if weather conditions are favorable.”
Ukraine will invest $70 million next year to revive regular production of aircraft at Antonov and to “master the full production of helicopters,” Prime Minister Shmyhal told the Cabinet. The money is to be part of a decade long, $1.4 billion investment to revive the portions of Ukraine’s aircraft industry seen as most profitable. Emerging from an import substitution phase prompted by the 2014 break with Russia, Antonov now is building an An-178 military cargo jet for Peru’s National Police. It also is negotiating a joint production venture with Turkey. Two weeks ago, Sergiy Bychkov took over as acting general director of Antonov, succeeding Oleksandr Los, who resigned after four months in the post.
Russia has decided to its close trade missions in two of its Western neighbors, Ukraine and Lithuania, and to open a mission in Syria. Russia-Ukraine trade steadily dropped after 2014, the year Russia annexed Crimea and moved troops into Ukraine’s Donbass. Last year, China displaced Russia as Ukraine’s largest single nation trading partner. Through October, Ukraine’s trade with the EU this year was three times its trade with the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States, according to figure released by the State Customs Service.
- Weekend Quarantine Started
- Protests Come from Restaurateurs and Shop Owners
- Biden Victory Lowers Ukraine Risk in the Eurobond Market
Started at midnight last Friday night, Ukraine embarked on the first of three ‘weekend lockdowns’ – partial shutdowns where restaurants, shopping centers and fitness centers will be closed through Sunday nights. The goal is to break chain of transmission of coronavirus without a fulltime ‘hard’ lockdown and to do it before the Christmas shopping season starts in December. During these nationwide lockdowns, food stores, pharmacies, gas stations and banks will remain open. Mass transit will carry only seated passengers.
With 10 of Ukraine’s 24 regions reporting 70% or higher occupancy rates in their Covid wards, Prime Minister Shmyhal warned at a televised government meeting: “Given the current situation, by Dec. 10-15, if nothing is done, there will be no places in hospitals even in the corridors.” Earlier, he warned that Ukraine’s infection rate could double from the current level of 10,000 new cases a day to 20,000 by the end of December.
Although the Health Ministry is increasing Ukraine’s Covid hospital beds by 50%, to 80,000, the Prime Minister warned: “We have arrived at the point of no return and are close to catastrophe.” He told the Rada: “The situation is critical not only in Ukraine, but in the whole world. England, France, Austria, Germany, Spain are returning severe quarantine restrictions.”
Denmark has donated 50 ventilators to Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry reported. DTEK and the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation have donated 62 ventilators since the start of the pandemic.
Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said: “We would like to do a complete lockdown for three weeks, but our economy won’t survive.” To ease economic pain, Prime Minister Shmyhal promised to give government aid to workers impacted by the partial shutdown. But the weekend quarantine plan drew a big protest in front of his office.
“Our main message is: ‘Let people work,’” Olena Obukhovska, spokesman for the Arricano shopping mall group, told Interfax-Ukraine. Drawing 300 people, the protest was supported by the Ukrainian Restaurant Association, the Association of Retailers of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Council of Shopping Centers. Signs read: “Weekend Quarantine Means Millions of People Without Work,” “My Work is my Life,” and “Without Business, there is No Economy.”
Andriy Piontkovksy, founder of the Cherry Berry chain of candies and natural drinks shops, wrote on Facebook that half of his turnover takes place in shopping centers on weekends. He asked: “How can we reduce the rent and back-office wages by 50% in proportion to the 50% shortfall?”
Alexander Savilov, co-owner of the Salateira restaurant chain, wrote on Facebook that many entrepreneurs say a short, hard lockdown would be more effective. He said: “Many are in favor of a complete lockdown. Some owners of large service businesses say that such a measure can allow for high-quality negotiations with banks.”
Lviv, a city with a big tourism economy, is preparing a lawsuit against the weekend lockdown decision, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote last night on Facebook. “Lockdown for the weekend is absurd,” said Sadovyi, who faces a second round of voting in a mayoral runoff on Nov. 22. Despite the weekend lockdowns, mayoral votes are expected to be held on Nov. 15 and 22.
The most recent political notables testing positive for coronavirus are: Dmytro Razumkov, speaker of the Rada, and Oleksiy Reznikov, deputy Prime Minister and minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories. From Germany, a political ally of Kharkiv Mayor Henndiy Kernes posted a photo of the 61-year-old Covid sufferer in a Berlin hospital bed – breathing tubes up his nose and a dazed look on his face. In Kyiv, Olena Zelenska, wife of the President, reported Tuesday: “On the President’s health: everything is fine. He feels well. He has isolated, but continues to work.”
On President-elect Joe Biden, Serhiy Sydorenko writes in an analysis in Evropeiska Pravda: “Implementation of reforms in Ukraine is going to be the main indicator on which the US would premise building relations with Ukraine. This was stated in Biden’s statements, it was a major requirement by American diplomacy, and, finally, this was what Biden himself made a priority in the last years in office as VP…Biden’s presidency is very good news for the reform-minded political players in Ukraine, especially those focusing on anti-corruption. And Washington will respond firmly to attempts of undermining anti-corruption infrastructure in Ukraine.”
With Joe Biden’s political emergence, perceived Ukraine risk has dropped and yields are down on Ukraine’s benchmark Eurobonds. Since Oct. 12, yields on the bond maturing in 2025 have dropped 90 basis points, to 6.04%. Yields on the 2032 bond have dropped 65 basis points, to 7.06%.
Ukreximbank, the nation’s third largest bank, is repurchasing its Eurobonds maturing in 2022 and 2025 for a total of $300 million. The state-owned bank reports that the redemption price of bonds maturing in 2025 was 104.5% of face value and of bonds maturing in 2022 was10 3.75%. Goldman Sachs International was the dealer-manager of the debt reduction exercise. Eugene Metzger, the new board chairman of Ukreximbank said: “The market situation contributed to the successful completion of the book of applications for redemption.”
Timothy Ash writes from London: “With Ukrainian Eurobonds ignoring the local constitutional crisis and taking their lead from global beta, I would be amazed if the Ministry of Finance does not tap the Eurobond market very soon…It must be mega tempting to come to market – and especially as it’s hard to see any more IMF money this year.”
On the hryvnia bond market, the Finance Ministry raised rates and quadrupled government bond sales last Tuesday, compared to the week prior. The Finance Ministry reports that it raised the equivalent of $280 million, largely on the strength of 3-month hryvnia bonds which went for 9%, up from 7.5% last month. The auction sold $10 million worth of 1-year bonds at 10.42%, virtually the same rate as two weeks ago. The Ministry rejected as too high all bids for its 2-year bonds. For dollar denominated bonds, the ministry sold a total of $82.3 million to 35 bidders with a weighted average yield of 3.62%.
Central bank governor Kyrylo Shevchenko is in Washington, trying to revive the stalled IMF deal. Against that background, Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “A significant increase of interest rates for 3-month bonds helped to raise more auction receipts. However, the limited number of bidders for these bonds implies that most of the hryvnia receipts at the auction are still being generated by state-owned banks.”
- UZ To Increase Capital Investment 5-Fold
- Rail Container Terminals to Go to Private Concessions
- Oil Bill Falls by 37%, Cutting Trade Deficit
- China’s Purchases of Ukrainian Goods Jumps 88%
- Hard to Park? 281,000 Used Car Imports Hit the Streets This Year
- Chornobyl Tourism of the Future: Kayaking and Biking Through a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ukrzaliznytsia plans to increase five-fold its investments next year in wagons, locomotives and track – to almost $1 billion, Irakli Ezugbaya, the new cargo director for the state railroad, told the Center for Transportation Strategies. Capital investments will stay at that level for 2022. In 2023, investments will make another jump, this time by 50%, to $1.5 billion.
International logistics companies will be able to manage UZ’s container terminals through long term concessions, Ezugbaya said in the same interview. “International logistics operators will be interested in these terminals, and they will help us to containerize cargo much better than Ukrzaliznytsia is doing now,” said Ezugbaya, who ran Georgian Railway LLC before joining UZ in September. “Ukrzaliznytsia, for its part, will provide appropriate platforms and route dispatches for organizing the movement of these containers.” The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation is advising UZ on preparing these public-private partnerships.
German logistics company Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG, or HHLA, has set up a Ukraine unit to send containers by rail to major cities from Odesa’s Container Terminal. Although container traffic was up by 8.5% last year, to 650,000 units, only 22% of the containers leave the port by rail, less than half the market share of HHLA’s home port, Hamburg. This fall is starting to work with container trains from Odesa to Kharkiv, Ternopil and Zaporizhia. Philip Sweens, managing director of HHLA International, told Container Management news site: “With an efficient train system based on customer-friendly services, transparent prices, simple booking processes and reliable timetables, we want to tap the considerable potential of the Ukrainian intermodal market.”
Through October, Ukraine’s foreign trade was down 9% yoy, to $82.7 billion, reported the State Customs Service. Imports were down 12%, to $43 billion. Exports were down 5%, to $39.6 billion. The trade deficit is down, to $3.4 billion.
Low oil prices have cut 37% off Ukraine’s oil import bill through October, compared to the first 10 months of last year, reported the State Customs Service. Ukraine paid $2.8 billion for oil imports. The top three sources were: Russia – 36%; Belarus – 35%; and Lithuania -12%. Reflecting the current corona recession, the volume of oil imports is down by 7% this year, to 6.5 million tons. Since June, Brent oil has priced around $40 a barrel, down from the low $60 range in last year.
Food exports are down 1.7% through October yoy, to $17.6 billion, reports the Ukrainian Club of Agrarian Business. Trends of major export commodities were: sunflower oil +21%; corn -12%; wheat +6%; soybeans – 48%; canola – 29%; barley + 37%.
Ukraine’s seaports handled 132 million tons of cargo through October, 2% more than during the first 10 months of last year, reports the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. Exports were up 4%, to 101 million tons. The top two exports were: grain, 39 million tons; and ore, 37 million tons. Ore exports, largely to China, were up 22% yoy. Imports were down 6%, to 20 million tons. Containers were up 7%, to 870,000 units.
China was the fastest growing buyer of Ukraine’s exports, Prime Minister Shmyhal told the Rada. In October, he said that Ukraine’s exports to China were up by 88%, or by $2.6 billion. To attract Chinese investors and shippers, the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority has launched a version of its website in Mandarin.
Odesa region’s Pivdenniy (Yuzhny) handled 18% more cargo through October, growing at the expense of the three other big Black Sea Ports, according to new figures from the Sea Ports Authority. Almost 40% of all of Ukraine’s sea borne trade went through Pivdenniy, Ukraine’s biggest, deepest, and most modern Black Sea port.
In contrast, cargo handled by Mykolaiv was down by 8%, to 25 million tons. Odesa region’s other two big ports saw similar drops: Odesa down by 6%, to 19.4 million tons and Chornomorsk down by 8%, to 19.4 million tons. On the Azov, Mariupol saw a rebound with cargo increasing by 11%, to almost 6 million tons.
First time registrations of used imported cars were up 50% yoy in October, to 38,800 cars, reports UkrAutoprom, the vehicle industry association. Registrations of new imported cars totaled 8,400 – or 22% of the used car number. So far this year, 281,100 used imports have been registered. With Germany and other EU countries restricting diesel cars, the portion of diesel imports to Ukraine rose to 29% last month. Gasoline accounted for 58%. Electric and hybrids were 3%.
The Digital Transformation ministry is launching an English-language version of Diya.Biznes, its online platform for entrepreneurs doing business in Ukraine. Currently in test mode, the platform features a map of the business support infrastructure, including incubators, accelerators, business support centers, foundations and business associations in each region of Ukraine. The platform is currently in test mode, the Ministry reported on Telegram.
Qatar Airways intends to resume flights Dec. 18 between Doha and Kyiv Boryspil. For the first two weeks, flights will be three times a week. Last spring, flights were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, a major attraction for foreign tourists, received 31,720 tourists through October, down 71% yoy. Due to the fires and the coronavirus lockdown, the area around the ruined nuclear power plant was closed to tourist for almost three months last spring. Last year, foreigners accounted for 80% of visitors.
To draw Chornobyl tourists for longer stays, Kyiv-based tour operators plan to offer next summer kayak tours on the Pripyat River and bicycle tours on a new, 45 km trail. The trail follows a loop, passing through four semi-abandoned villages, stretches of deep forest and clearings that offer unexpected views of the abandoned city of Pripyat and the sarcophagus covering the remains of the power plant. The trail takes 4 to 6 hours and guides scheduled breaks every half hour so cyclists do not get winded. The Kyiv Post reports: “The faster a person inhales and exhales, the higher the radiation dose they can receive.”
Building on the internationally acclaimed “Chernobyl” HBO series, Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko seeks UNESCO World Heritage Site status for the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, reports the New York Post. “This is not only a tourist attraction, but also a place of memory where it is worth coming to understand the truth about the disaster and its ‘final effect,” Tkachenko told East2West News. In 2019, an average of 2 million Americans watched each of the five episodes of “Chernobyl.” Ukraine currently has seven World Heritage Sites.
- Zelenskiy Has Covid
- Weekend Lockdown Would Leave Only Food Stores and Pharmacies Open
- Biden Welcomed as Battler for Ukraine’s Free Market Reforms
- Foreign Investors Turned Off by Judicial Rot
- London for Christmas
President Zelenskiy, his chief of staff, and his Finance Minister all tested positive for the coronavirus. Zelenskiy reported on his Telegram channel that his temperature is 37.5C (99.5F). In June, his wife Olena contracted coronavirus and was hospitalized for several weeks. Zelenskiy, Andriy Yermak, his chief of staff, and Serhiy Marchenko, the finance minister, are all self-isolating and working remotely. Yermak wrote on Facebook: “Friends, I urge everyone: Don’t be careless with the quarantine rules. Wear masks, wash your hands. Keep your distance, while staying calm.”
To curb the virus, President Zelenskiy proposes weekend lockdowns where only food stores, pharmacies and gas stations would be open from Friday midnight to Sunday midnight. He said: “A temporary lockdown at weekends, for about a few weeks, can help us to avoid a harder lockdown.” Health Minister Maksym Stepanov told reporters he recommends suspending inside dining at restaurants, allowing only takeout on weekends.
Scheduled surgeries and hospitalizations are now prohibited in Ukraine, deputy Health Minister Viktor Liashko told reporters. Last week 9,234 people were hospitalized for Covid, 2,000 more than the previous week. With the daily infection toll around 10,000, Liashko described the situation in Ukraine as “extremely tense.”
The national occupancy rate of hospitals dedicated to treating coronavirus-infected patients is 63.2%. The worst regions are: Poltava – 94%; Zhytomyr – 81.3%; Rivne region – 79%. Kyiv city is at 63%, the national average. In Kyiv, three schools and 13 kindergartens have been closed due to Covid cases among teachers, Mayor Klitschko told reporters. He said: “A total of 654 pupils and 602 teachers in Kyiv have are sick with coronavirus.”
As 80% of Ukrainian Covid cases undergo treatment – or self-medicate – at home, the use of antibiotics has grown 3.5 times yoy, Health Minister Stepanov told the Rada. At the same Rada session, Prime Minister Shmyhal said that in Ukraine the mortality rate for hospitalized Covid cases is 1.8%. Since March, almost half a million Ukrainians have tested positive for the virus.
President Zelenskiy signed a law that allow police to issue on the spot fines of $6-9 to adults found in enclosed public spaces without masks. Mask wearing is not mandatory on streets. They are mandatory in: stores, restaurants, schools, playgrounds, gyms, government offices, elevators and hallways of apartment buildings, underground passageways, bus stops and all kinds of public transport.
In a bill seemingly aimed at recruiting Ukrainian doctors and nurses, Poland is drafting legislation to fast track the hiring of health workers from outside the EU, reports Radio Poland. Poland’s corona case rate of 15,000 per one million inhabitants is about 50% higher than Ukraine’s, according to Worldometer. Asked if the bill is aimed at neighboring Ukraine, source of most of Poland’s migrant workers, Michał Dworczyk, head of the Polish Prime Minister’s office, replied: “This bill is not intended for any specific country.”
“Why a Biden presidency is very good news for Ukraine,” headlines an analysis by Anders Åslund, the Washington-based economist who has watched Ukraine closely over the last 30 years. “Few countries are likely to benefit more from a Joe Biden presidency than Ukraine,” Åslund writes for the Atlantic Council. “As vice president, Biden fought hard for the rule of law in Ukraine. He is bound to do so all the more forcefully as president. This is bad news for the many different forces in today’s Ukraine who are seeking to reverse anti-corruption initiatives or block judicial reform. For example, the 11 Ukrainian Constitutional Court judges implicated in attempts to derail anti-corruption efforts had better reconsider.”
Ukraine’s pro-Western, anti-corruption reformers will have a strong advocate in Biden, Ukrainians tell Mark Raczkiewycz in a RFE/RL piece titled: “More Than Just An Onlooker, Ukraine Largely Relieved At U.S. Election Result.” Serhiy Fursa, deputy CEO of Dragon Capital, predicts: “I see Biden pushing to accelerate reforms…If Biden is on top of the reform agenda, the investment climate should improve.” Oleksiy Haran, political science professor at Kyiv-Mohyla, notes Biden’s many visits here and says that the US president-elect “really knows Ukraine on a substantive level” and “what reforms are needed, how they work, and what impact they could make.”
“Lack of trust in the judiciary” is the top turn off for foreign investors – displacing “widespread corruption,” according to a poll released of equity and strategic investors. Because of these two factors, 48% of the 117 respondents said that Ukraine has become less attractive for investment.
“Ukrainian business shares the opinion of foreign investors,” said Anna Derevyanko, executive director of the European Business Association, one sponsor of the annual poll. “According to an EBA survey conducted in September, most CEOs think that Ukraine needs to implement judicial reform and establish the rule of law first and foremost.” The new poll, also sponsored by Dragon and the Center for Economic Strategy, was conducted during the last week of October – a time when the Constitutional Court made clear it intended to dismantle the anti-corruption agencies established after the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.
The best solution for the Constitutional Court crisis would be the resignation of justices who voted for abolition of anti-corruption legislation, Fedir Venyslavsky, President Zelenskiy’s representative to the Court told Ukraine 24 TV. Venyslavsky, a Rada member for the ruling Servant of the People party, urged the tainted justices to “muster up civil courage and resign in order to preserve the institutional nature of the Constitutional Court.” Evidently feeling popular pressure, the Court postponed for the second time in one week a review of the farm land market law passed last spring.
The new Oschadbank branch on the Ukrainian-controlled side of the new Shchastia checkpoint is capable of handling 2,000 customers a day, Sergei Naumov, the new chairman of the savings bank, reports. Ukrainian passport holders will able to receive pensions and money transfers, open deposits and use bank cards. Similar Oschadbank branches are at the two other Luhansk checkpoints, the new one at Zolote and the recently upgraded one at Stanytsia Luhanska. All seven checkpoints in the Donbas are to reopened for cars and pedestrians. The crossings were closed for several weeks as a coronavirus control measure.
In time for the Christmas, UIA plans to fly three times a week to London Heathrow, starting Dec. 17. At the same time, Ukrainian International Airlines will continue to fly three times a week to London Gatwick. For passengers bound for North America, UIA will offer at Heathrow connections through Air Canada to Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, and through British Airways to Orlando, Florida.
- World Bank Loans $100 Million for Donbas Development
- Government Draws up Ambitious Growth Goals for 2020s
- Central Bank Governor is in Washington to Revive IMF Deal
- Police to Levy Fines For Not Wearing Masks
The World Bank will loan $100 million to rebuild roads and to promote farming and small business investment in the government-controlled half of Luhansk region, the Bank Board voted. “Thousands of people in conflict-affected communities will benefit from Reconnect, Recover, Revitalize project investments,” said Arup Banerji, World Bank Regional Director. Implying that more Donbas lending will follow, he said: “This is the first loan in the World Bank’s portfolio, targeted to help the Government of Ukraine deliver on its commitment to outreach and development support for conflict-affected populations.”
Tweeting from Luhansk region, President Zelenskiy thanked the World Bank “for supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” In Luhansk, Zelenskiy inspected a new checkpoint at Shchastia that is to open along with another at Zolote. Both of the new Luhansk check points have Oschadbank branches and Ukrainian government centers that offer “88 administrative services,” the President said. He added: “People who come from the temporarily occupied territories can see what Ukraine is like: modern, asphalted, peaceful and safe.” Next year, similar service hubs are to open at all of Ukraine’s checkpoints with the Donbas and Crimea, said Oleksiy Reznikov, Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories.
In the 103 days of ceasefire in the Donbas, “the number of attacks has decreased 5.5-fold [year over year] and the number of killed Ukrainian servicepersons has decreased 10-fold,” Zelenskiy told a group of Western ambassadors accompanying him to the Shchastia checkpoint.
The government is elaborating a Donbas economic development strategy document to submit next spring to the Rada, along with implementing legislation, said Reznikov who is a Deputy Prime Minister. Development will be based on private investment, government spending and international aid. Citing road, rail, energy and drinking water projects, he said: “Economic development of Donbas is impossible without the development of communities, which, in particular, are in direct contact with the territories being temporarily beyond government control.” The government wants to create two free economic zones – one in the Donbas and one in Western Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, presidential chief of staff told 1+1 TV’s VIP project show.
Ukraine’s ‘lost decade’ of economic growth cost the nation $1 trillion in GDP, Prime Minister Shmyhal told the Rada. Presenting a national ‘economic audit,’ he said: “Ukrainian citizens lost one trillion – due to constant changes in vectors [priorities], incomplete reforms, absence of long-term economic strategy, corruption, inefficient governance.” Last year, Ukraine’s GDP was $155 billion.
Drawing on a new document, National Economic Strategy 2030, the Prime Minister targeted these areas for growth in the 2020s:
- Minerals, oil and gas – $400 billion. He said only one third of 12,000 known deposits are being developed.
- Water resources – hydropower, irrigation, fisheries and river navigation – $12 billion. He called for increasing river cargo to 20 million by 2025, double last year’s level.
- Farm land – $85 billion. He said the introduction of a broad farm land market would increase the price of land five-fold, to $5,000 per hectare by the end of the decade.
- Forestry – $40 billion. A priority should be to add value inside Ukraine, through such activities as furniture making
- Tourism – increase the annual flow of foreign tourists to 30 million people, domestic to 60 million, increasing the tourism share in GDP from 1% today to 10% in 2030.
- Airline travel – increase the number of air passengers in Ukraine to 71 million, triple last year’s level.
Development goals are interesting, but more useful is the path to achieve them, says Igor Burakovsky, head of Kyiv’s Institute for Economic Research and Political Consulting. He tells Interfax-Ukraine: “The key question that needs to be answered is why these problems were not solved earlier and how they can actually be solved in practice today. Therefore, purely in practical terms, it is the future Action Strategy that is of greatest interest.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has congratulated Joe Biden on his projected victory in the U.S. presidential election. “Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris! Ukraine is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States,” he tweeted. Earlier, former president Poroshenko greeted to the re-election of Rep Marcy Kaptur and other members of the bi-partisan Congressional Ukrainian Caucus. Poroshenko predicted: “We can prevent the [economic] reforms from being stopped and receive funding…as it is written in the Constitution at my suggestion, until full membership in the European Union, NATO, Euro-Atlantic integration.”
Kyrylo Shevchenko, Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, is in Washington all week, meeting with IMF and World Bank officials, the Central Bank posted on Facebook. Five months after the signing of the 18-month Stand-By Agreement last June, the IMF has not sent a review mission to Kyiv, a needed step for release of a second tranche in the $5 billion deal.
“Spat between Zelenskiy and Ukraine’s top court concerns EU,” headlines a Deutsche Welle story highlighting the threat to IMF and Western aid posed by Ukraine’s Constitutional Court moves to scrap anti-corruption laws. “The International Monetary Fund — Ukraine’s primary lender — had made this a condition for loans,” reports Germany’s state-funded broadcaster. “And the European Union had demanded greater transparency as a condition for signing the 2014 Association Agreement.” DW quotes Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba saying: “We will lose the support of our partners if we fail to address this problem soon.”
Vitali Klitschko has been re-elected for a third term as mayor of Kyiv, the local election commission announced. In the Oct. 25 election, Klitschko won 50.5%, or 365,161 votes, escaping a runoff.
Pro-EU parties won most of the votes in the Kyiv City Council election. The ranking was: European Solidarity – 20.5%; Klitschko’s UDAR – 20%; Unity – 9%; Pro-Russia Opposition Platform – For Life – 8%; Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People – 7.5%; Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivschyna – 7.5%, and Golos – 6%.
With the number of Ukraine’s new coronavirus cases now averaging 10,000 a day, the Rada approved a law empowering police to issue fines of $6 to 9 to people who do not wear masks in enclosed public spaces. A previous, cumbersome fine system involving the courts resulted in only 3-5% of fines being levied, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said before the vote in parliament.
Slovakia is restricting crossing at its two border checkpoints with Ukraine, citing high coronavirus rates on both sides of the border. Cargo trucks are to cross unimpeded. For similar reasons, UIA is suspending for the next month its flights between Tel Aviv and Lviv and between Tel Aviv and Kharkiv.
The original English version is from our partner UBN – Ukraine Business News. For more information and news archive, go to: www.ubn.news.
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