TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA — European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Sir Suma Chakrabarti on June 9 hailed the Ukrainian government’s success in delivering reforms and “laying the foundations for lasting change.”
Ukraine now had its “best chance of guaranteeing the future its people deserve despite false starts aplenty since independence,” Sir Suma said in a speech delivered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“Ukraine is not squandering this chance to build a better tomorrow,” he told the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress and the University of Toronto. “This is the most reform-minded government that Ukraine has known. Indeed, it is one of the most professional administrations that we in the EBRD have ever worked with.”
Suma was full of praise for the progress made by the current government in spheres such as energy security, gas tariffs, fiscal reform, the rule of law, public procurement and cleaning up the financial system.
However, it needed to move faster over the next six months in other areas as well as restore fiscal discipline.
If such reforms were forthcoming, “investors will respond,” he said. “The EBRD is the largest single investor in Ukraine. We will be leading the way.”
“There is still much that urgently needs to be done in the banking and energy sectors. The fight against corruption and oligarchs has only just begun.”
Building on 25 years of experience, the EBRD was well placed to helping Ukraine re-energize its transition to a more advanced economy and more modern form of politics, he said.
“Our commitment to Ukraine is not one that is here today, gone tomorrow. We are in this for the long haul. Concealed amidst all the hardship, the uncertainty and the financial turmoil of the present is Ukraine’s best chance of guaranteeing the future its people deserve.
“Yes, there have been false starts aplenty since independence. But look at the progress the Ukrainian government has made in its short life so far in laying the foundations for lasting change,” he said.
However, passing reform-minded laws was not enough in itself to guarantee change. They had to be implemented immediately after adoption, he stressed.
At a time of conflict and economic crisis, when funding from other sources had all but dried up, the EBRD invested €1.2 billion in Ukraine in 2014, more than in any other single year since it started operating in the country, Suma said.
Among its major projects agreed last year were financing of up to €150 million to upgrade, modernize and repair a key section of Ukraine’s gas transmission system and a loan of $60 million to a private stevedoring company to develop a grain transhipment terminal in Odessa.
The EBRD was also instrumental in setting up Ukraine’s Business Ombudsman, a new institution key to its efforts to improve its investment and business climate and stamp out corruption.