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  • Gov’t Allows Ukrainians to Return to Work in EU
  • GDP To Plunge 11% This Quarter
  • Steel, Construction Already Fall
  • World Bank Gives Another $150 million for Covid Mitigation
  • Rada Goes on Vacation for Three Weeks

In a policy switch, the government is negotiating to allow Ukrainian migrant workers to travel abroad, notably to Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Israel.We are talking about the employment of thousands of people,” Vadym Prystaiko, deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, told reporters Friday evening. “We are talking about several hundred flights that our airlines will have to carry out.”

In March, government officials encouraged migrant workers to come home, fleeing the coronavirus pandemic in the EU. Then in April, government officials said they should find work in Ukraine. Although no law bars Ukrainians from leaving the country, all airports are closed. Charter flights only leave Ukraine with the express permission of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada wrote Thursday: “Ukrainians are already protesting restrictions on traveling for work abroad, and Prime Minister Shmyhal didn’t help himself when making the dubious claim that “Ukraine is also full of work” and the government “will try to create new jobs” for those workers who returned with “very comfortable” small business loans. This case-by-case approach to permitting workers to fly abroad has already embarrassed the government.”

Under pressure, Prystaiko said in an official statement posted Friday night: “We won’t create artificial obstacles.” Flights will be allowed for workers with 3-month contracts and health insurance. As EU employers turn to Romania and Thailand for seasonal farm workers, economists note that labor last year constituted Ukraine’s second largest export, after food. Last year, migrants sent home $13 billion, according to the National Bank of Ukraine, and $16 billion, according to the World Bank.  This year, this amount is expected to drop by20%. By comparison, new foreign investment to Ukraine last year totaled $3 billion.

Ukraine is living through a 11% GDP drop this quarter, estimates the National Bank of Ukraine. However, the central bank predicts a V-shaped economy for the second half, reducing GDP contraction for the whole year to 5%. “The negative impact of the pandemic on the Ukrainian economy will be relatively short-term, but quite powerful,” the bank reports, noting the Q1 y-o-y drop was only 0.5%.


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After coronavirus restrictions ease, retail, tourism and aviation will be slow to recover, partly due to depleted savings and missed earnings, the bank predicts. Food exports should remain strong, due to inelastic demand. Metal exports will be slow to recover due to decreased demand worldwide.

Ukraine’s steel output in April was down 27% y-o-y, according to a flash estimate by UkrMetalurgProm, Ukraine’s steelmakers association. April’s production of 47,000 tons, was down 20% from the March level of 58,400 tons. Since the start of the year, steel prices have dropped by 20%, compared to a 6% drop for iron ore. “This means Ukraine’s steelmakers would explore increasing iron ore exports instead of melting the stuff at their mills,” writes Oleksiy Blinov, chief economist of Alfa-Bank Ukraine.

Construction in March fell 13% y-o-y, accelerating a decline that started with February’s drop of 4% y-o-y. During the first quarter, construction in Ukraine totaled $1 billion, down 5.5% from Q1 2019, says the State Statistics Service. Residential construction in March was down 25% y-o-y. Among the big cities, all kinds of construction was down q-o-q in Kyiv by 8%, to $240 million, and in Odesa by 28%, to $56 million. In Lviv, construction was up by 15%, to $75 million.

The state will guarantee up to $1 billion in loans to small and medium-sized businesses at below market interest rates, President Zelenskiy told the nation Friday in his May 1 television address. The interest rates will be 3-5% – half of Ukraine’s prime rate of 8%.

The World Bank approved on Friday $150 million funding to Ukraine to fight coronavirus and to mitigate the social impact of the restrictions. This money is in addition to $130 million in World Bank announced earlier last week. Of the total, $85 million is to go to fight the pandemic. Separately, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov announced that $585 million has been budgeted to hospitals tasked with fighting Covid- 19.

On May 11, the coronavirus restrictions are to be eased to allow the reopening of stores and hairdressers, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said Friday at a briefing in Cherkasy. Stepanov was in Cherkasy to countermand the decision by Mayor Anatoliy Bondarenko and the city council to open city parks and small and medium businesses for the May holidays.

On national TV, President Zelenskiy denounced the mayor’s move as “an attempt to earn political points at the cost of lives and health of the city residents. And this will have relevant legal consequences.” In response, Cherkasy business owners and militants of the National Corps protested at the headquarters of the municipal police demanding that businesses be allowed to operate during the 10-day holiday.

Since the first fatality on March 13, Ukraine has recorded 288 deaths of people who tested positive for coronavirus. About 90% of the dead were people over 50 years of age with serious pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, heart problems, and obesity, reports the Health Ministry’s Center for Public Health. Of the 16 health care workers who have died, three quarters were older than 60. The average period from hospitalization to death was seven days.

Kyiv and western regions, home for many migrant workers returning from the EU, are the nation’s hot spots for coronavirus infections. The latest numbers for laboratory confirmed cases are: Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast – 2,258 cases; Chernivtsi – 1,818; Ivano-Frankivsk – 965; Ternopil – 823; Rivne – 726; Zakarpattia – 508; Lviv – 473; and Vinnytsia – 435. Ukraine’s land borders have been largely closed since March 17.

Belarus plans to build new pipeline to deliver oil from Ukraine and Baltics. President Lukashenko signed an order to build a pipeline from Gomel to Horki by 2023. The goal is diversify oil supplies away from Russia. Two state companies Belorusnet and Gomeltransneft Druzhba are to design and build the pipeline by 2023. In March, Ukraine’s Ukrtransnafta transported Azeri oil to Belarus via the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline and then by a branch of the Druzhba pipeline.

President Trump is nominating Keith W. Dayton, US Army Lt. Gen. retired, to become the next US Ambassador to Ukraine. For the last 10 years, Dayton has directed the George C. Marshall Center, a government-funded, Russia-focused think tank in Garmisch, Germany. Dayton, a Russian speaker, served as the US Defense Attache in Moscow during the early years of the Putin presidency. First aired six months ago, Dayton’s nomination is expected to be ratified this summer by the US Senate.

The Rada is expected to reconvene around May 20, predicts Davyd Arakhamia, leader of the Servant of the People faction. This is expected to give the government time to form majorities for the ‘anti-Kolomoisky’ banking bill and other key pieces of legislation. Last week, the government failed to line up enough support to win a vote for Mikheil Saakashvili as a deputy prime minister. Instead, President Zelenskiy may take him on as an advisor.

 

  • Gov’t Loses Grip on Quarantine
  • Shopping Centers, Restaurants, and Media Groups Count Lockdown Losses
  • Eurozone Drops 3.8% in Q1 – Next Quarter Will be Worse
  • Antonov to Form Fleet for Ukraine’s New State Airline
  • Travel Agents Dream up Domestic ‘Hot Tours’

As the government gradually loses its grip on the quarantine, Ukraine’s Health Minister held out the promise of restoring wider economic life – opening up small shops and small businesses – at the end of the May holidays. But Minister Maksym Stepanov’s main message in a televised briefing Thursday was: “What do we see in the last days? We see rallies, people on the streets. We see traffic jams. We see an increase in the number of people in parks.”

“I ask you to stay home during the May holidays – I ask you to observe the lockdown,” he said as Ukrainians approached their traditional 10-day holiday period. But as he spoke big supermarkets were clogged with shoppers stocking up on essentials for holiday barbecues. By mid-afternoon, online maps showed major highways leading out of the capital turning red with traffic jams.

The quarantine has cost shopping center owners $50 million in lost rents and advertising revenue, NAI Ukraine real estate consultants tell Interfax-Ukraine. Often rents are tied to sales volumes. Since mid-March all shopping center stores are closed, except for supermarkets. A NAI survey of Ukrainians indicate that the recovery will be slow, restrained by shoppers’ lost incomes and fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus.

Vacancies will grow in shopping centers, Yekateryna Vesna, head of retail for Cushman & Wakefield Ukraine, tells Interfax-Ukraine. “Shopping centers now predict an increase in vacancy,” she said. “The less popular the facility is, the higher the share of free space will be at the end of quarantine.”

The quarantine has ‘liquidated’ 40% of Ukraine’s 30,000 restaurants and cafes, Nikita Poturaev, chairman of the Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy, tells Interfax-Ukraine. “12,000 of these 30,000 were liquidated,” he said. “Not in the sense of ‘closed for quarantine,’ but in the sense of ‘liquidated as enterprises.’” He added: “Perhaps some of these 12,000 liquidated enterprises will return. But we do not know how many.”

Media revenues have fallen by 35% since the coronavirus quarantine started in mid-March, estimates Poturaev. He tells Interfax-Ukraine: “We can expect serious upheavals in this market will affect not only independent media, which are in a very difficult situation, but also large media groups.”

The GDP of the Eurozone, Ukraine’s largest bloc trading partner, may decline by 5-12% this year due to coronavirus lockdown measures, estimates Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank. During the first quarter the Eurozone GDP dropped by 3.8%, the worst drop since statistic taking started for the Eurozone, in 1995. In the second quarter, from April to June, the drop could be as much as 15% y-o-y.

The eurozone economy is facing an economic downturn, the scale and speed of which is unprecedented,” Lagarde said Thursday at a news conference. “Polls show a drop in consumer and business confidence…With the gradual lifting of restrictive measures, economic activity will recover, although the speed and scale of this recovery are subject to high uncertainty.” She said the European Central Bank has made €3 trillion available to banks at negative interest rates.

The Rada has approved fast track debate of the IMF banking law. The bill, designed to block Ihor Kolomoisky from winning back PrivatBank, is to be debated at a special session late this week. The law is seen as essential to winning a deal with the IMF. The deal would unlock about $10 billion in IMF and international aid, saving Ukraine from financial default.

Ukraine has climbed into the top quarter of nations in the world for budget transparency. Of 117 countries, Ukraine ranks in 26th place, according to the Open Budget Rankings,  an annual score compiled by the International Budget Partnership. Based on 109 indicators, Ukraine’s latest ranking is a huge improvement since 2015, when the nation ranked in 57th place.

With Poland’s gas transit contract with Russia’s Gazprom due to expire on May 18, Ukraine successfully carried out test deliveries for gas traders on two routes to Poland. In one, gas left Slovakia, did a U-turn through Ukrainian pipelines, and entered southeast Poland. In the second, gas was delivered to Poland directly from storage caverns in western Ukraine. “These deliveries confirmed the possibility of fully providing the necessary [gas] resource to Poland in the event of interruption / reduction of deliveries from the Russian Federation,” Sergiy Makogon, general director of the new Gas Transmission Operator of Ukraine, writes on Facebook. “Ukraine has once again proved that it continues to be an important element of Europe’s energy security.”

Kyiv-made Antonov regional jets and turboprops will dominate the fleet of a Ukraine national airline that President Zelenskiy plans to create.Antonov aircraft can easily serve all regional flights that exist in Ukraine between cities, and [flights] to nearby countries,” Kyrill Tymoshenko, deputy presidential chief of staff, told ZIK TV after Zelenskiy chaired a working group meeting Tuesday on creating the airline. “Budgeting is underway now,” Tymoshenko said. Referring to Kyiv’s largely dormant Antonov aircraft plant, he said: “They will work, produce planes. The airline will transport people.”

Betting that Europe will not re-open to non-EU tourists until mid-summer, Ukrainian tour operators are developing vacation packages for domestic tourism, Marian Oleskov, chairman of the State Agency for Tourism Development, tells Direct TV program. She said: “We cannot talk about the summer season because it is unlikely that borders with many countries will be opened.”

 

  • Food Markets to Reopen
  • Small Business Owners Protest Corona Curbs
  • Gov’t Agency Stops Migrant Worker Flight to London
  • Wizz Air to Open Lviv Hub on July 1
  • After a Decade, Financing in Place to Complete Odesa’s Runway

Almost 900 food markets reopened last Friday across Ukraine, Ihor Petrashko, minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture told reporters. Under a Cabinet resolution, each market is to have a minimum of two health inspectors, check on spacing of stalls and usage of masks by vendors and customers.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi writes on Facebook: “May 1, we open food markets.” With the summer tourism approaching he added: “We also appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with a request to open access to parks and squares, and to allow the operation of summer terraces for cafes and restaurants from May 12.”

The Cabinet decision to allow the reopening of food markets came as hundreds of small business owners protested outside, blocking traffic.While we are not working, we have run out of money, we already have nothing to eat,” Kyiv restaurateur Andriy Bondarenko told Reuters.They (the government) have no action plan or understanding of the processes.” Small business owners complain that they have been forced to close for two months while major chains like Epicenter, Silpo and Citrus remain open.

Inside the Cabinet building, Prime Minister Shmygal defended the 6-week-old shutdown. The fact that we have fewer infected people compared to other countries is the result of the quarantine and your compliance with those measures,” Shmygal said at the televised meeting. “We imposed the quarantine on time and we will lift it in due time. Irresponsible calls for early lifting of the quarantine threaten all Ukrainians.” 

Due to coronavirus curbs, 200-300 million fulltime workers could lose their jobs worldwide this quarter, according to two reports, one by the UN and the other by its agency, the International Labor Organization. The ILO estimates that 1.6 billion informal workers, such as street vendors, are losing their incomes. The UN report says that during the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, many more people died due to a lack of social services and economic downturn than to the disease itself. 

In a new threat to an IMF deal, the Rada may consider a bill to make it easier to fire Artem Sytnyk, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, a Western-supported agency seen as relatively independent. According to news site Evropeiska Pravda, IMF Ukraine mission head Ron van Rooden sent a letter to President Zelenskiy’s office Monday night warning:The institutional independence of NABU and its heads are critical components of its effectiveness, and therefore were important elements of previous IMF programs.”  

The letter was sent hours after Rada members allied with Ihor Kolomoisky engineered committee approval of a bill to widen dismissal grounds of a NABU head to ‘administrative offences, or misdemeanors. NABU and the Prosecutor General’s office have pursued an embezzlement case into PrivatBank, which was formerly co-owned by Kolomoisky. Last month, the Prosecutor General, Ruslan Riaboshapka, was fired.

Oleksiy Lyubchenko has been appointed head of the State Tax Service, Vasyl Mokan, a government Rada representative, announces on Facebook. While his predecessor, Serhii Verlanov, is well known in tax reform circles, Lyubchenko is best known for serving as a deputy head of the State Tax Administration a decade ago.

The Cabinet of Ministers has limited the salaries of heads of executive bodies and members of supervisory boards of state-owned companies to $1,740 a month. The move follows similar lowered pay caps for ministers and their deputies. Critics say the effect will be to undermine the bureaucracy, turning off competent candidates from the private sector and rendering officials dependent on cash payments from the President’s Office.

Sales of top end apartments in Kyiv fell by 70% y-o-y in March, and in April almost stopped, according to a survey by Kiev Standard, the elite real estate agency. In January-February, a total of 624 high end apartments sold. In March this fell to 116. The agency said Ukrainian buyers shifted toward finished or nearly finished apartment. Foreign buyers could not complete purchases due to travel barriers.

While dozens of Ukrainian workers waited at Boryspil for their flight, Prime Minister Shmygal discussed the migrant worker issue with EU Ambassador Matti Maasikas and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Kristina Kvien. On Telegram, Shmygal wrote later: “The government is ready for negotiations with European countries that express a desire to officially invite Ukrainian workers to seasonal work.” He said the talks will be carried out by the Government Office for Coordination on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.

Wizz Air plans to base an Airbus A320 in Lviv and to add seven new Ukraine routes during the first week in July. Increasing its routes out of Lviv by almost 50%, Wizz Air will add: Billund (Denmark), Hamburg, Lisbon, Szczecin (Poland), and Tallinn. From Kharkiv, Wizz Air will add two new destinations: Berlin and Tallinn. With this expansion, Wizz Air will fly 62 routes from Ukraine, almost 10% of its total network. “This investment underlines our long-term commitment to the country,” said George Michalopoulos, the airline’s chief commercial officer. Initially, passengers and crew will wear masks, the airplanes will be sanitized several times a day, and seats between passengers will be empty.

Passenger traffic at Ukraine’s airports was down 9% y-o-y during the first quarter, reports Ukraine’s State Aviation Administration. January and February’s 15% growth compensated for a disastrous March. After Ukraine suspended all scheduled flights in mid-March, Kyiv Boryspil ended the month with traffic down 49.5%. Kyiv Sikorsky ended March down 65%.

The government has decided to allocate $23 million to complete construction of the runway at Odesa Airport, a project started almost a decade ago. Minister Oleg Nemchinov wrote on Telegram: “The construction was started within the framework of the program and preparation for the European Football Championship, Euro-2012.”

 

  • Dry Weather to Cut Harvests
  • Grain Exports Hit 50 Million Tons
  • Ze Signs Law Creating Farm Land Market
  • Steel to Drop by 25%
  • Food Markets to Reopen
  • Corona Curbs Ease on Transportation – Outside of Ukraine

Dry weather, bordering on drought, will push Ukraine’s grain harvest down by 20% this year, from last year’s record 75 million tons, predicts the Ministry of Economic Development of Trade and Agriculture. “Due to moisture deficit and economic factors caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers will collect 60 million tons of grain and leguminous crops,” the Ministry says in a statement. Despite the dry land, about half of spring sowing of corn and sunflower are complete. In the second half of March, sales of seeds and fertilizers as part of the government’s effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The Dnipro and several other rivers in Ukraine have hit their lowest water levels in 100 years, the Kyiv Post reports, citing several experts. The maximum daily inflow of water to the Kyiv water reservoir in late March was four times lower than normal,” the article says, noting the threat to agriculture this summer. Separately, Ukrinform, the state-owned news agency, notes that the State Water Resources Agency warned in early March 2020 that for the first time in 120 years Ukraine could prioritize access to water by users.

In response, the Agency said Monday the six reservoirs on the Dnipro are 94% full and there is sufficient water for shipping, irrigation and drinking. After December proved to be snowless, the government started filling reservoirs in January, well ahead of schedule, the agency said. “We continue to provide agrarians with water for irrigation of the south of Ukraine, the source of which is Dnipro water accumulated in the cascade of the Dnipro reservoirs,” the agency said. “Dear media representatives, please do not create or spread false information. Do not create panic among the population and farmers!”

Ukraine grain exports hit 50 million tons yesterday, 18% more than at the same time last year, reports the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture. For the marketing year that started July, the big three cereals have seen this growth: corn +7% to 30 million tons; wheat +41% to 15.6 million tons; and barley +52% to 3.7 million tons. With two months left in the marketing year, the ministry expects exports to total 54 million tons.

With food importing nations increasingly nervous over supply disruptions caused by coronavirus curbs, Saudi Arabia’s state grain buyer has bought 60,000 tons of wheat from its Ukraine farms, Reuters reports. SAGO’s purchase from SALIC marks Saudi Arabia’s first purchase from Saudi agricultural investments overseas that are aimed at enhancing the country’s food security. To bolster wheat stocks, the kingdom have asked Saudi private investors with foreign farmland to supply it with 355,000 tons of wheat, about 10% of nation’s needs this year.

Facing international pressure, Ukraine’s government has reversed itself and decided not to limit corn exports this year, APK-Inform agriculture consultancy, reported.

Ukraine’s farm land market is to start July 2021, according to a new law signed by President Zelenskiy. “This is a historic moment for all Ukrainians and for me personally,” Zelenskiy said on signing the bill. “Ukraine has been waiting for this law since independence.” The law bans sales to foreigners and limits sales to Ukrainians to 100 hectares. On Jan. 1, 2024, this limit is to expanded to 10,000. Allowing foreigners and companies with foreign capital to buy land is to only be decided in a national referendum.

To experiment with foreign investment, voters could open up “severely drought distressed areas of the country where investment is desperately needed to build out irrigation and reverse declining agricultural yields,” Bate Toms, Chairman of the British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, writes in an Atlantic Council Ukraine blog. “This is a growing concern in much of southern Ukraine, including Kherson Oblast, where the Oleshky Sands is Europe’s largest desert. Stable land tenure is necessary to attract the kind of long-term large investments needed for expensive irrigation initiatives.”

Without land titles for collateral, 2,000 Ukrainian small farmers have obtained $1 billion in financing over the last five years through ‘crop receipts,’ reports the International Finance Corporation, the private sector oriented arm of the World Bank. Under this project, implemented with Swiss aid, farmers use future harvests as collateral to obtain money to buy  seeds, seedlings, and fertilizers. Jason Pellmar, IFC regional manager says: “Crop receipts cover over 40 unique value chains, including traditional grains and oilseeds, as well as niche, organic crops, and other agricultural products such as hay, honey, milk, and cattle.”

Ukraine’s steel production is to drop by 25% in April-May, compared to the same time last year, predicts Andriy Tarasenko, chief analyst for GMK Center, Ukraine’s metal and mining news site. He predicts low prices will continue through the year, as world steel demand may contract by 10% this year. Cutting demand for Ukraine’s semi-finished products, several rolling plants in Europe have been stopped, ostensibly due to coronavirus curbs. He predicted the Ukraine’s steel production will only return to 2019 levels in 2021.

With metallurgy output down 16% y-o-y in March, Ukraine’s overall industrial production was down 7.7% y-o-y in March, according to the State Statistics Service. Measuring the month when coronavirus fears started to grip the nation, pharmaceutical production jumped 22%, while manufacturing output dropped 8.5%.

Interest rates rose only slightly when the Finance Ministry held its first – and only – government bond auction for April. The government sold $164 million worth of dollar bonds. The most popular, 9-month securities, went for 3.5% per annum. The 6-month securities went for 3.3% per annum, compared to the March 24 auction where 3-month securities went for 3%. Last week, Ukraine’s central bank slashed the prime rate to 8%, from 10%.

Czech Railways, or Českе dráhy, resumed on Sunday long distance passenger service inside the Czech Republic, reports Gudok, the railroad news site. The railroad is negotiating to buy Leo Express, the 10-year-old, Prague-based private rail operator that has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown.  Croatia Airlines restarts domestic flights on May 11. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the airline maintained its flight between Zagreb and Frankfurt, flying 23,000 Croatians home.

 

  • Ze Says He Has Votes for IMF Bill
  • Skepticism Greets Purges
  • Support for Corona Quarantine Ebbs
  • Domestic Air, Train and Bus Travel To Resume March 12
  • Wizz Air Restarts Flights Friday from London – But Not to Ukraine

President Zelenskiy believes he has the votes in the Rada to pass a bill that would shield PrivatBank from re-privatization, clearing the way for an IMF accord. “[The] Bank law is a priority for us,” he told French President Emmanuel Macron by phone Monday. “I am confident it will be backed by parliament because it is important for us and it opens the possibilities for cooperation with the IMF.” Aides predict that there will be special sessions of the Rada this week, allowing for passage by the end of the May holidays.

Dismissals of the heads of Customs and the Tax Service are receiving poor reviews.

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “If anything, it reaffirms to the public that anyone going to serve in the Zelenskiy administration can expect to be in their post for no more than six months, a message that merely encourages corruption rather than reduces it.”

With allegations swirling of attempts to sell government posts to the highest bidders, the EU Delegation to Ukraine tweeted: “The EU and the US are closely following the appointments of leaders in the customs and tax services. It is important to adhere to honest, competitive procedures, which are based on merit, and not to risk long-term reforms that are supported by international partners.”

Maxim Nefyodov, dismissed head of Customs, told finance.liga.net news site that newly rigorous customs controls led to a jump in declared imports of contraband-prone goods in the first quarter – mobile phones up 71% and clothing up 43%. Earlier, summing of the 3.5 months of work of the agency, he said he had fired 500 corrupt holdover employees, moved much of the paperwork online, and had put scanners into operation at seven EU border checkpoints, cutting inspection times for a truck from three hours to 10 minutes. Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko, defended Nefyodov’s firing, saying: “The smuggling has not disappeared.”

Serhiy Verlanov, dismissed head of the Taxes, said in 2019, the Tax Service fulfilled its annual revenue plan for the first time in eight years, and fulfilled its plan for excise duties on alcohol products for the first time in four years. Prime Minister Shmygal countered on Facebook: “The 2019 budget showed among the worst revenue indicators in recent years.”

Support for the quarantine has dropped from 72% in early April to 54% last week, according to polls conducted by Research & Branding Group as part of the Rubicon project. The latest poll, of 1,400 Ukrainians, detected an erosion in compliance with virus security measures. The portion of respondents fearing that they or family members will get sick fell from 40% to 29%. Three quarters support extending the quarantine through the May holidays, but 42% say it should stop May 12. On personal finances, 47% say they have no savings and 51% say their household income is down.

Intercity and suburban train and bus travel will resume on Tuesday May 12, assuming coronavirus infections slow, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krikliy predicts in an interview with Liga.net. He cautions: “But much depends on what indicators for the spread of the virus we will have by May 12.”

Also planned that date are re-openings of: parks, beaches, stores, beauty salons, barbers, law firms, audit firms, notaries and bike rental shops. In a Facebook posting Prime Minister Shmygal stressed that all depends on the evolution of the virus.

Wizz Air starts flying again on Friday out of London Luton to a dozen destinations, including several Romanian cities to pick up migrant workers. Flight attendants will wear masks and gloves, and will distribute disinfectant wipes to each passenger. Seats between passengers will remain empty, meaning that a 180-seat Airbus A-320 will carry 120 passengers. Each jet will be disinfected at night.

Air Astana starts flying domestically in Kazakhstan between Almaty and Nur-Sultan (Astana). Last weekend, Belavia took advantage of the grounding of most of Europe’s airlines and inaugurated a flight between Minsk and Vienna.

Poland is preparing charter flights to fly Ukrainians to Western Poland to work in factories and to harvest strawberries and asparagus, Krzysztof Inglot, head of Work Service S.A., a Wroclaw job agency, tells Poland’s TVP. UIA tells NV that it plans two flights to carry Ukrainian farm workers to Finland. UIA said that passengers were require to have six month work contracts.

Ukraine’s scheduled air travel will resume first with domestic flights, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krikliy predicts in an interview with Liga.net. For international travel – 95% of Ukraine’s air travel – the 14-day self-isolation rule is a barrier. “For example, you went to Poland and then returned,” the Minister said. “It will be necessary to spend 14 days in self-isolation. Will everyone be comfortable in this mode? I doubt it.”

Ukraine’s government is organizing ‘evacuation’ flights from 26 cities around the world. After arrival at Kyiv Boryspil, passengers are to go into two weeks of self-quarantine. Despite the grim economy, returning workers are encouraged to stay here, finding work or taking take low interest loans to start small businesses.

Since the quarantine started six weeks ago, 277,000 individual entrepreneurs, or FOPs, have stopped working, reports OpenDataBot. Overall unemployment is believed to have doubled. Salaries in the second quarter are shrinking, according to experts interviewed by Segodnya.ua.

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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