President Viktor Yanukovych on June 23 heard the same drumbeat of criticism that’s been playing in national leaders’ ears for more than a decade.
If the message is getting through, it somehow isn’t getting carried out.
“Address the systemic and pervasive corruption that…touches the lives of every citizen at every level,” Thomas Mirow, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said at an investors’ council meeting chaired by Yanukovych.
Some of the largest foreign and domestic investors in Ukraine came to tell Yanukovych what they thought of his plans to improve the economy and investment climate, two key components of the president’s plan to transform the country.
Foreign direct investment is expected to reach $5.81 billion this year, due to “reforms carried out by the Ukraine state and an improving climate for investment,” Ernst & Young’s 2011 Ukraine foreign direct investment report stated. In 2010, FDI inflows stood at only $4.15 billion
Ukraine ranked 10th in Central and Eastern Europe for the number of FDI projects – 178 – and number of jobs created – 7,487 for the years 2006-2010.
Ukraine is a high-risk destination for investment. According to the June Euromoney Country Risk Survey, Ukraine remains among the 10 riskiest countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Kononchuk said government government institutions need to be strengthened, laws adopted that treat everyone equally.
Speaking at the investment council meeting, Ukraine’s richest man, a longtime backer of Yanukovych, was upbeat. “We’re going in the right direction,” said billionaire Rinat Akhmetov. “There’s a favorable investment climate in Ukraine today.”
Speaking with the Kyiv Post, Cargill’s CEO Greg Page stressed that a vast amount of investments could pour into Ukraine to help develop the nation’s promising agriculture sector, double harvests within a decade and, in turn, feed an increasingly hungry world.
But he warned that if protectionist policies such as last season’s grain export restrictions persist along with preferences for insiders, Cargill, which has invested $150 million in Ukraine thus far, could roll back on investments.
“This is a great place for the world to grow more food. But all the gifts that nature provides can be undone with bad policies,” Mr Page said.