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  • Ukraine’s Mammoth Mriya to Ferry Medical Cargo from China to US
  • Chinese Build Highway, River Port, But Don’t Get Jet Engine Factory
  • Ukraine Food Exports Up 6% in Q1
  • Exports to China Up 42%
  • Ukraine Looks at a Summer Without Flights

This week, the world’s largest plane, Ukraine’s Mriya An-225, is to fly medical protective gear from Shanghai to Columbus, Ohio, reports Buzzfeed. This is to be the inaugural flight of a month-long China-US medical cargo airbridge flown by the Mriya and five slightly smaller Ruslan An-124 cargo jets, Vitaliy Shost, deputy director of Kyiv-based Antonov Airlines, tells reporter Christopher Miller. Shost said that due to the coronavirus emergency, the Mriya or Ruslans have flown medical cargo over the last month from China to Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Kuwait, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland. Livestream of the Mriya landing last week at Warsaw’s Chopin Airport was watched by more than 80,000 people.

Antonov’s poster boy An-225” can project Ukraine’s soft power in this time of global obsession with the coronavirus,  Alyona Getmanchuk writes in an Atlantic Council blog, “Ukraine Flies to the Rescue.”  “The current coronavirus crisis has provided Antonov with what can only be described as a golden opportunity to demonstrate its worth to Ukraine’s international partners,” writes Getmanchuk, director of Kyiv’s New Europe Center. “Finland was able to significantly strengthen its national brand on the international stage with the help of specific Finnish companies such as Nokia and Angry Birds. There is no reason why Antonov cannot serve the same function for Ukraine,” she writes in a blog first posted on Ukrainska Pravda. “Instead of appearing as a perennial victim always in need of help and protection, this allows Ukraine to present itself as a predictable and competent partner.”

A bid by Chinese investors to take over Ukraine’s aircraft engine maker has been blocked by a Kyiv court, Reuters reported Friday. The court rejected an appeal by Skyrizon Aircraft Holdings Ltd. to take over Zaporizhia-based Motor Sich. Skyrizon plans to appeal the March 13 ruling. The US opposes the deal, which would hand advanced jet fighter engine technology to China.  The court ruling was kept quiet for one month, apparently for geopolitical reasons.

After a slow start, China’s Sinohydro Corp. Ltd. plans to finish on schedule this fall a complex €42 million, 22-km, cement highway bypass around Zhytomyr. Construction involves rebuilding a highway bridge over the Kamenka River and three viaducts over railroad tracks, and building four new highway interchanges and two pedestrian bridges. Funded largely by the EBRD and the European Investment Bank, the highway will unplug a major bottleneck: the only 2-lane stretch in the 322 km of the M-06 between Kyiv and Rivne. Last year, this part of the international highway carried 10,000 vehicles a day.

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COFCO, China’s largest food processor, manufacturer and trader plans to increase by 40%, to 30,000 tons, the storage capacity of its Unigrain-Basis Terminal on the Dnipro River, in Myshuryn Rih, reports the Dnipropetrovsk Development Agency. With eight port facilities in Ukraine, the state-owned Chinese company recently installed advanced grain handling equipment in Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi, a Kyiv region port one hour south of Boryspil.

Ukraine’s food exports increased by 6% during the first quarter, compared to January-March of last year, reports the Ukrainian Agricultural Business Club. Exports totaled $5.7 billion. Among major commodities, sunflower oil exports were up by 17% and corn by 8%. In 2019, Ukraine exported a record  $22.4 billion worth of food, almost 20% more than in 2018.

Ukraine’s exports to China jumped by 42% y-o-y for the first two months of this year, reports the State Statistics Service. The jump, to $760 million, helped to cut Ukraine’s overall trade deficit in goods in half, to $423 million. China is Ukraine’s largest single trading partner, with two-way trade totaling $2.1 billion in January and February. Ukraine’s imports from China during the period were up only by 1.4%, to $1.34 billion.

Air cargo prices between China and Ukraine have tripled since the quarantine started one month ago, Avianews reports, citing Andrei Krivorotov, director of Kyiv’s Zammler Group of logistics companies. Previously, when 80% of air cargo was carried on passenger jets, the delivery price of one ton was $4 to $4.5 a kilo. Now the price is $12 to 18. UIA and SkyUp are using idled passenger jets to carry cargo.

When low cost carriers return to the air, prices may not be as low as before. Early flights will require passengers to wear masks and to fly separated by an empty seat, Wizz Air and International Air Transport Association predict in an article in Uvidpustku, the vacation news site. “If we ask to set the distance on the plane, we will have to neutralize a large number of seats,” said Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of IATA. “This means that airlines will need to increase prices.”

In March, tourism spending fell in Europe by 68%, with spending in Italy collapsing by 96%, reports UBS bank research. Of the world’s 209 countries, 96% have imposed travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, reports the UN World Tourism Organization. Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary generation of the agency, said: “We urge governments to constantly review travel restrictions, to cancel or ease them, when travels become safe.”

It may take four months before scheduled flights are flying again out of Ukraine, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy said on Channel 24 TV. He said: “I think that scheduled [flights] are quite likely to be resumed in September or even earlier, by the end of the summer.” Facing what could be a 6-month, government-imposed shutdown, Ukraine’s four largest carriers – Azur, SkyUp, UIA and Windrosehave already asked for aid from the Infrastructure Ministry. He predicts it will take two years for Ukraine’s air traffic to return to the level of 2019. Municipal transit – buses, trams and metro networks – should restart in June-July, he predicts.

Starting Easter Monday, through May 3, visits to cemeteries are banned in Kyiv and many other cities to prevent the coronavirus spreading among people who traditionally visit graves of family member in days after Orthodox Easter. Yesterday, many churches were closed and many cities were under a lockdown banning movement.

In Kyiv, the biggest virus hotspot is the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra with 140 cases, or 16% of the city’s known total.  Last month, the leader of this Moscow Patriarchate Monastery said prayer and hugs were the best way to combat the virus. Today, the leaders, Metropolitan Onufriy, is hospitalized with the novel coronavirus, along with a prominent pro-Russian politician, Vadim Novinski, who hand delivered medical protective gear to the monastery last week.

Kyiv and Kyiv region now have 1,105 cases, or 20% of the nation’s known total of 5,449 laboratory-confirmed cases. Other hotspots are: Chernivtsi – 889; Ivano-Frankivsk – 480; Ternopil – 390; Vinnytsia – 330; and Lviv – 245. The armed forces have 32 soldiers hospitalized with acute respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. About 300 more servicemen and woman are in self-isolation.  Mykola Balan, Chief of the National Guard, has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

 

  • Rada Advances on ‘Anti-Kolomoisky’ Bill
  • This Easter: Stay Home
  • Corona Curbs on Mass Transit to Ease in May
  • New Energy Minister Faces Big Challenges
  • Rock Bottom Gas Prices Postpone Drilling Projects

The Rada voted last Thursday to change its own rules to fast track passage of the ‘anti-Kolomoiskybill, a piece of legislation weighed down with 16,585 amendments. Appealing for a rule change to limit such ‘spam’ amendments, Rada speaker Dmytro Razumkov warned: “This is a situation that could block the work of the parliament until the autumn.” Passed by 242 of the Parliament’s 424 deputies, the bill faces another majority vote before the financial bill can be voted in a second reading. With as much as $10 billion in soft loans at stake, backers hope to pass the legislation before Ukraine’s May holidays start Friday May 1.

In an advance warning, the Kharkiv region village of Vysokopillia is under lockdown after a 71-year-old candle seller at a local church died of complications caused by the novel coronavirus. Separately, pro-Russian Rada member Vadym Novinsky was hospitalized in Kyiv after testing positive for coronavirus. Last week, Novinsky delivered 850,000 medical face masks to Metropolitan Onufry, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. In recent days about 100 monks and visitors to the monastery tested positive to the virus and two monks died.

From the ‘beginning of May,’ restrictions on mass transit can be eased, Prime Minister Shmygal writes on Telegram. Starting in the ‘beginning of June,” trains, buses and metro systems can be fully restarted – but “according to the new rules,” the Prime Minister writes.

With the government’s “Big Construction” program in full swing, the RDS group of highway construction companies offers to hire 850 workers – a 70% increase in its staffing. The company is building roads in eight regions. Yuriy Schumacher, a co-owner of the group says: “The construction industry is not quarantined! And we want to provide jobs for those who need it most.”

Economic impact of world coronavirus curbs will be felt until 2025, Vladyslav Rashkovan, Ukraine’s representative to the IMF, said Thursday in a video conference organized by Deloitte. Referring to the IMF’s semi-annual world economic outlook, released Tuesday, he said that in three months, the IMF’s global economic outlook had flipped: from 3% growth in January to 3% contraction in April. “This is a super-serious change in such a short period,” he said.In fact, this makes the crisis the worst recession since the Great Depression, and much worse than the global crisis of 2008.”

Olha Buslavets has been appointed acting Energy Minister by the Cabinet. A five-year veteran of the ministry and a frequent speaker at Ukraine energy conferences, Buslavets most recently served as director general of the ministry’s Energy Markets Directorate. “We are experiencing one of the biggest crises in the history of Ukraine, and the crisis in the energy sector is an integral part of it,” she said.  “Within a week, a list of urgent measures that the energy sector needs will be formed. These measures will be aimed at the technical, fuel and economic balancing of the energy sector.”

Buslavets’ appointment brought into the open the bitter splits within the majority Servant of the People party. Oleksandr Dubinsky, a Rada member allied with Ihor Kolomoisky, attacked Prime Minister Shmygal, a DTEK executive from 2017 to 2019, as favoring Rinat Akhmetov, owner of DTEK. “As for lawmakers who are outraged by the way Shmygal behaves, my advice is: eat dirt,” Dubinsky addressed his party colleagues through Facebook. “You yourselves have turned into nothing and nobody – bootlickers.”

Ukraine’s new Energy Minister must take key steps to modernize the nation’s electricity generating and pricing system before blackouts start later in this decade, Edward Chow, writes in the Kyiv Post. “Current crisis conditions of low demand, lower prices, and systemic non-payment expose an electricity system on the verge of bankruptcy,” writes Chow, an advisor to DTEK, Ukraine’s largest energy holding company.  Calling for a deal on green tariffs with  wind and solar investors, he writes that President Zelenskiy’s first Cabinet “managed somehow to turn a rare success story in private investment in renewable energy, as flawed as it may be, into a prime illustration of why Ukraine is not ready for foreign investment. Six months of negotiations failed to produce a compromise solution acceptable to both Ukrainian authorities and domestic and foreign investors.”

In this era of low gas prices and lack of storage space, European companies could profit by storing excess stocks of cheap gas in western Ukraine’s reservoirs,  Wood Mackenzie, the Edinburgh-based energy consulting firm writes in a report: “Ukraine may hold key to Europe’s gas storage crunch.” WoodMac estimates that Ukraine will have 9 billion cubic meters of storage space free this morning for use by European traders.

Europe’s rock bottom gas prices are prompting gas producers in Ukraine to shelve investment projects, the Association of Gas Producers of Ukraine warns in a statement posted this week on its website. “Under the current conditions, there is a real threat of a drastic reduction in production as a result of the partial or complete reduction of investment. Today, the industry is in dire need of incentives, without which it is impossible to expect continued drilling of new wells and exploration at new fields.” Incentives should take the form of tax breaks. Last year, Ukraine produced 20.7 bcm, 78% of consumption.

Despite the fall in natural gas prices, DTEK is maintaining its 2020 plan: drilling four new wells and producing 1.7 billion cubic meters of gas. However, DTEK CEO noted in a briefing to reporters Tuesday: “I say this from the perspective of today. The situation is developing so quickly that these plans can be reviewed in a month or two.”

 

  • Unemployment Surges
  • Price Controls in the Air
  • Yuryk Is New UZ CEO
  • DTEK Coal Production Down 30%
  • Half of Ukrainians Tell Pollster They Oppose an IMF Deal
  • No EU Tourists This Summer?

Ukrainians are registering as unemployed at 10 times the rate seen prior to the March 12 imposition of the quarantine, Prime Minister Shmygal told the Cabinet of Ministers. Kyiv has seen a 60% jump over the last month in the number of people registered at the Kyiv City Employment Center. Viktor Bilych, director of the center, says 13,500 people are now registered. In February, the ratio of vacancies to job seekers was 1:1. Now, he says: “On average, two people apply for one vacancy in Kiev today.”

To increase hiring by small businesses, the Cabinet of Ministers has increased by 50% – to $110,000 – the maximum loan amount under the program “Affordable Loans: 5%-7%-9%.” In addition, the government is proposing zero interest loans for small businesses.

Price controls are to be put in place for 10 basic food products and medicines for the duration of the state of emergency, says Ihor Petrashko, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture. Food products include: flour, sugar, pasta, milk, bread, poultry, eggs, butter and buckwheat (гречкa). While most cereals and flour have decreased in price over the last year, the State Statistics Service reports that the price of buckwheat increased by 79%, to UAH 30 per kilo.

ATB, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, is keeping its plan to open 100 new stores in 2020, Borys Markov, director general of Dnipro-based ATB Corporation, said Tuesday in an ‘anti-crisis’ online management webinar.  Markov said the chain experienced wild volatility in daily sales in late March, ranging from a 20% drop to a 50% rise. With 1,101 stores, the discount chain is credited with keeping prices low, sending key pricing signals to competitors.

Ivan Yuryk has been appointed acting CEO of Ukrzaliznytsia, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy announed on his Telegram channel. After the quarantine is over, the competition for the post of running Ukraine’s state railroad will be resumed. Promoted from Chief Financial Officer, Yuryk has worked with UZ for the last two years, first as a member of the Supervisory Board, then as a Board member.

During the quarantine, UZ’s freight trains are running normally, Željko Marček, the outgoing acting CEO of Ukrzaliznytsia, tells Interfax-Ukraine. Maintenance is performed on track and on the passenger rolling stock, which is largely idle.  Covered by labor contracts, UZ’s entire workforce – the largest in the nation –  is on full salary.

DTEK’s coal production this year could be down 30% y-o-y, DTEK Group CEO Maxim Tymchenko told an online press briefing Tuesday. With the suspension of work Monday at DTEK’s Pavlohrad Coal, the nation’s largest mining complex, DTEK will have put a total of 30,000 miners and employees on leave since late March.

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes: The consumption of hard steam coal by DTEK Energy’s thermal power plants fell 31% y-o-y in 1Q20. In March, the decline was 27% m/m and 36% y-o-y…[These] statistics show that a temporary shutdown of coal mining by DTEK is a reasonable solution.”

DTEK hopes to complete restructuring its debt by mid-June, Tymchenko said in the online briefing.  Proposals will go shortly to the committee of creditors. Recalling DTEK’s 2016 restructuring, he said: “I rely very much on the trust and memory of our investors … In any situation we work very professionally, honestly with our investors and they always become our allies.”

Parliamentary procedures rule out passage of the ‘anti-Kolomoisky’ bill before May 5, Davyd Arakhamia, head of the People’s Servant faction in the Rada, tells Ukraine 24 TV. He says he is “200% sure: after we vote on the ‘banking’ law, within three weeks we will receive an IMF tranche.”  He says: “At the end of May, we have a very large payment – that is, we need a tranche to make it.”

Almost half of Ukrainians polled oppose entering a new deal with the IMF, according to the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. Of the 2,000 polled through Saturday, 46% oppose a new loan program, while 32% support it. In the poll, 60% opposed the creation of a farm land market and 74% say they would vote in a national referendum against it.

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “While it was long established that the public opposes the launch of the farmland market, its opposition to the IMF loan tranche is a distressing signal indicating increasing weariness of Euro-Atlantic integration overall…Influencing public opinion is Ihor Kolomoisky, the reckless billionaire actively trying to undermine the Ukrainian government’s attempt to rescue its economy with an IMF loan program…Kolomoisky wants Ukraine to abandon IMF cooperation altogether and default on its international loans.”

In a public opinion boost for President Zelenskiy, a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia-controlled Donbas took place at the Mayorske checkpoint, Donetsk, reports Hromadske.ua. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the only camera team present was from the President’s Office.

Temperature checks are to be made on most drivers and passengers entering Kyiv City, the City Administration reports. The new rule applies to buses, vans, trucks, and cars carrying three people or more. Sick people will either be ordered into self isolation or be taken to hospitals.

The President of the European Commission advises Europeans not to plan trips this summer. I advise you to wait and not yet plan summer trips, as Europe is still seriously affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” Ursula von der Leyen told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “At the moment, no one can make reliable forecasts for July and August. We will need to learn how to live with this virus for many months perhaps until next year.” On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested the EU will remain largely closed until September. Britain’s Foreign Office advises Britons to postpone trips to Spain until September.

Ukraine’s only operating airport, Kyiv Boryspil, is operating at 5% of capacity, Pavlo Ryabkin, the airport’s general director tells Ekonomichna Pravda. “There are no scheduled flights, only special, humanitarian and freight flights,” he says. “On a good day there are up to 20 of them – at the same time last year there were 350.” Of his workforce of 4,500, 90% have been put on leave at 2/3 pay. Looking ahead, he said: “It will take two to three years to resuscitate the industry to the volumes that were at the end of last year.”

Calculating that this is a lost year for aviation, the Rada slashed spending last week on two regional airports. The new budget cuts Dnipro airport reconstruction spending by 90%, to $3.6 million. The delay will strengthen rival Zaporizhia’s position as the airport for Ukraine’s southeast. In March, Zaporizhia completed a multi-year, $40 million reconstruction of its runway and terminal. The new budget also cuts out funding to reopen Odesa’s Izmail airport. In the past, the airport had direct flights from Istanbul and Kyiv, making Izmail Ukraine’s jumping off point for Danube River tourism.

 

  • Rada Maps a Way Out of Kolomoisky Trap
  • IMF Pegs Ukraine’s 2020 GDP Drop at 7.7%
  • Neighbors Clamor for Return of Ukrainian Workers

The Rada meets this afternoon to debate and vote on a special parliamentary procedure that would allow fast track treatment of ‘legislative spam’the 16,585 amendments attached last week to a financial bill designed to block Ihor Kolomoisky from regaining control of PrivatBank, the nation’s largest bank. Two Rada members supporting the bill predict on social media that the final version will emerge from this process for a second and final vote in the middle of this week.

Passage of the bill is key to Ukraine winning an IMF deal. This deal would unlock $10 billion in soft money aid to Ukraine, ruling out a default.

Concorde Capital’s Alexander Paraschiy writes. We believe it is possible to approve this needed law, which will open large multilateral financial support for Ukraine, in mid-May. While the risk of sabotage and further postponements are high, we are keeping an IMF deal in May as our base-case scenario.”

The IMF predicts Ukraine’s GDP will fall this year by 7.7%, tracking a 7.5% fall in the Eurozone group of 19 countries. Russia’s fall is pegged at 5.5%. Titled The Great Lockdown, the IMF’s semi-annual report predicts a worldwide rebound next year, with Ukraine growing by 3.6%. This year, the IMF predicts, Ukraine’s inflation will be on target, at 4.5%, and the current account deficit will fall sharply, to 2% of GDP this year, from 7% last year.

Coal mining is in crisis in Ukraine, warns Timchenko. He says: “More than 2.9 million tons of unclaimed coal are accumulated in warehouses of thermal power plants and mines. About 30 coal mines have been suspended in the country; more than 40,000 people are idle. The loss of thermal generation over the past six months is 3.1 billion UAH [$114 million]. All TPPs operate below the minimum staff, about 50% of employees are idle.”

The culprits are, Timchenko says:  imports of electricity and coal from Russia and Belarus, manual regulation of the market,” a mild winter and now the coronavirus quarantine, which cuts electricity use. Recalling that Britain closing of 20 mines in 1984 lead to civil strife, the DTEK executive warns of the social cost in Ukraine: “Today, about 90,000 people work in this industry. Up to 30% of electricity production, until recently, was using coal. Naturally, mines were built together with cities, and this industry has more than 65 single-industry towns with more than 1.3 million people.”

Saying its back is against the wall, DTEK Energo informed creditors March 27 that it is suspending payments on loans and bonds and starting debt restructuring talks. Since then, the government has placed a six-week ban on electricity imports from Russia and Belarus and placed a 65% import tax on some types of Russian coal.

From the business side, relaxing the quarantine is supported by half of companies polled by the European Business Association. To ease the quarantine, the most important step is to improve virus testing, according to the poll of 122 companies completed last week. In this poll, 83% of companies have workers working from home, 20% cut salaries, 15% put employees on paid leave, and 4% cut staff.

One third of Ukrainian workers who left Poland due to the quarantine want to go back and half of Ukrainians working in Poland want to extend their stays there, according to a tally of callers to bilingual telephone hotline set up by a Polish employment agency, Gremi Personal. In the first 10 days of the hotline, “We are Together,” 1,287 Ukrainians called about working in Poland, Gremi said in a press release.

The cutoff of flights from Ukraine is so disruptive to labor flows that neighboring countries are offering to send charter flights to Ukraine.We indeed witness the huge demand for Ukrainian labor migrants in neighboring countries,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on 1+1 TV. “There are already cases when the foreign ministers of certain countries call me and say: ‘Our country is ready to pay for charter flights, is ready to pay for everything, and documents right now as spring has come, seasonal works begins, and workers are needed now.’”

Last week, 36,200 new people registered as unemployed with Ukraine’s State Employment Service. As of Monday, 388,000 Ukrainians were officially jobless – 22% more than this time last year. This year, the five hardest hit oblasts are: Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava and Zaporizhia. Since a large portion of Ukrainians are not officially employed, the real jobless number is believed to be far higher.

With their passenger jets grounded, UIA and SkyUp are converting planes to carry cargo. UIA says in a press release: “With a free layout in a Boeing 737, you can transport about 70 cubic meters in total, and about 160 cubic meters in a Boeing 767. Our cargo transportation division is open for cooperation.”

SkyUp already has three contracts to carry medical equipment from China to Europe. There a catastrophic shortage of cargo planes in the world,”  SkyUp CEO Airlines Eugene Haynatsky tells the Center for Transportation Strategies. “We have foreign orders, and we are ready to carry goods from China to Europe, because European airlines can’t cope.”

 

  • Rada Approves New Budget. Now: How to Pay?
  • Summer of Road Paving Ahead
  • Corona Sweeps Through Pechersk Lavra
  • For the First Time in a Century, Aviation Stops

As expected, the Rada easily passed the corona crisis budget, largely with the overwhelming support of the majority Servant of the People party. The budget more than triples the budget deficit to GDP, from 2.1% to 7.5%. The budget is premised on a 3.9% GDP drop this year. The budget raises the national debt ceiling by 17%, to the hryvnia equivalent of $88 billion.

Printing money to cover the deficit is “a road to nowhere,” Dmitry Sologub, a deputy governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, warns in a video address. “Ukraine has had quite negative episodes in the past: in the 90s, and in 2008, and in 2014, when uncontrolled financing of the state budget deficit by monetary means, that is, by emission, led to all these troubles,” he says. “I would not want to let out of the bottle again this ‘genie of inflation and devaluation’, where the hryvnia devalues, inflation rises, budget expenditures increase, then the deficit is financed again with monetary funds.”

Ukraine Approves A Crisis Budget, But Has No Way To Cover Deficit, Katya Gorchinskaya writes in Forbes. “Without passing an additional banking law required by the International Monetary Fund to release an extended aid package, the nation has no way of covering a deficit that size amid the economic crisis,” she writes, referring to a bill designed to block Ihor Kolomoisky and others from regaining control of banks they bankrupted. While the government crafts an approach to dealing with the 16,335 bill amendments, she writes: “The date of the possible vote remains unclear.”

The new budget preserves intact $2.65 billion in spending on road repair and building this year. “Expenditures on road infrastructure have been saved, so the Great Construction program will continue,” Vladyslav Krykliy said after the budget vote. During this year’s 8-month road building season, Ukravtodor, the state highway agency, plans to rebuild or repair 4,000 km of national roads and 2,500 km of local roads.

“It will be an absolute record in the field of road construction in Ukraine,” Krykliy told RFE/RL in an extensive interview. “Great Construction is a really important project. It is not only significant, because we will finally see the new quality of roads, but it also about the development of the economy of Ukraine and the economy of the regions.”

 

Budgeted for this year are:

  • $100 million to move ahead with Zaporizhia’s massive highway bridge over the Dnipro
  • Funding for a French company and an Austria company to monitor specific road construction projects, looking for fraud.
  •  Funding for hiring 150,000 workers across the nation on road projects
  •  Funding for repairing the123 km road from Severodonetsk, the provisional capital of Luhansk Oblast, to Stanytsia Luhansk, the only road crossing into the Russia-controlled portion of Luhansk
  • Funding for repair of 136 km, or 90%, of the road between Zaporizhia and Berdyansk. Scheduled for completion by mid-summer, this will allow day trippers to go from the oblast capital to the Sea of Azov in 90 minutes.

 

Donetsk is the first region to start using slag – metallurgical waste – as an ingredient for road building, reports Oleksandr Kubrakov, head of Ukravtodor. Two months ago, the Cabinet of Ministers authorized using slag and fly ash to produce high performance concrete. The Donetsk slag comes from Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol. Ukravtodor is reviewing road contracts involving slag in: Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhia.

A coronavirus outbreak at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery has infected 93 people and pushed the Kyiv City total to 495. Two Lavra monks have died, pushing the national death toll to 93. Subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Pavel, the father-superior of the monastery, last month followed Moscow’s line of the time, saying the best antidotes to the virus were prayers and “hugs.” The church leader has changed his views. Today, the Lavra is under lockdown, with ambulances going in and out of the 11th century complex.

Eight Rada members are among the Ukrainians who have tested positive to the novel coronavirus. Almost 25,000 police officers are enforcing the nationwide lockdown. The Internal Affairs Ministry reports that 56 criminal cases and 6,042 protocols for administrative offenses have been drawn up.

The World Bank will provide Ukraine $135 million to modernize Ukraine’s health sector and counter the Covid-19 epidemic, the National Health Service reports on Facebook. Separately, President Zelenskiy is offering to pay a $1 million prize to the first Ukrainian scientist who discovers a Covid-19 vaccine.

Ukraine’s air space returned to the 1920s during the last week in March. The nation’s air traffic control agency reported a 96% y-o-y drop in flights. For the entire month, air traffic was down by 37% y-o-y, reports the agency UkSATSE. Regular scheduled flights in and out of Ukraine essentially ended March 17.

Passenger traffic in and out of Kyiv’s Sikorsky airport, plummeted 65% y-o-y in March. For the quarter, traffic was down 35% y-o-y, to 417,400. One year ago, Kyiv’s city airport lost traffic with the move of SkyUp and most discount airlines to Kyiv Boryspil, which has more runway capacity.

Looking ahead, Odesa hotel operators hope the summer season will start in July, ideally with the Odesa International Film Festival on the weekend of July 10-11. Foreign visitors may largely be from Belarus, Moldova and Poland, Fazil Askerov, chairman of the Odesa Region Tourism Association, told Quarantine Season 2020 an online hospitality conference, reports Interfax Ukraine. To address to health concerns from a largely Ukrainian clientele, he suggests hoteliers increase breakfast times to prevent lines and increase distances between restaurant tables.

 

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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