31 January 2012

Kyiv is a big village.

Kolesnikov warns hotel owners not to overcharge for rooms during Euro 2012

Ukrainian Vice Premier and Infrastructure Minister Borys Kolesnikov has called on owners of Ukrainian hotels not to set too high prices during the Euro 2012 European Football Championship

See story here

28 January 2012

This is Ukraine.......law is not applicable

I recently attended a dinner with a large group of people working on the UEFA Euro 2012 Football championships in Ukraine. Most of them working on contracts for ticket sales, corporate hospitality and hotel deals.

One man (an EU national) told me how he had made over hundreds of agreements with various hotels in Ukraine.
His company had made agreements with these hotels where they had agreed to purchase reserved rooms. Moreover, the company had agreed to pay for these rooms 60 days before the expected day of usage. But now he is surprised that almost each one of these hotels wants to change the terms and conditions and of course the agreed prices for rooms. One famous hotel in Kyiv had informed him that they will just ignore the agreement they signed as they know they can command a bigger price for their hotel rooms.

I had to smile when he asked me "Do they not respect agreements in Ukraine?"
I proceeded to explain how things really work in Ukraine. Obviously it came as no surprise to me that these hotels had no intention of honouring any agreements. Its not the Ukrainian way.

Ukrainian 'business people' are heavy on 'making an agreement'. Probably more so than any other country in Europe. They like to see everything agreed in written form and signatures applied to each and every page of the agreement and duly 'stamped' using a corporate seal, to avoid any changes being made to the agreement at a later date.

But, when they realise that the terms of any agreement could now be better for them, they will simple ignore what has been agreed and act as if nothing had been in place. The more polite Ukrainians will simply inform you that they intend to change the terms and conditions to suit what they now want.

I also informed my dinner colleague that he and his company would probably be wasting their time if they decided to pursue these hotels through the normal legal process. It would be unfruitful to do this in Ukraine as the rule of law as we know it in Western Europe does not apply in Ukraine.

Sadly this is another case that demonstrates why its not easy for foreign companies even those associated with Euro 2012 to do business in Ukraine.

25 January 2012

Ukraine until 2020

One of my friends in Odessa recently wrote an interesting article in his blog about the possible future scenarios for Ukraine as a result of a Chatham House report from early 2011.

The report sets out three possible scenarios for the future of Ukraine. Quote:

The following three scenarios were selected by the panelists on the basis
of their plausibility, distinctiveness, and potential relevance to U.S. foreign
policy:

ONE - Fragmentation from Failed Authoritarianism. Yanukovych overreaches, and the economy falters. These trends excite a diverse array of
responses—rather than unified opposition—and, as the regime enters a
deep crisis of legitimacy, local leaders begin to distance themselves from
the center.

TWO - Consensus Leading to Reform. Backlash against the Yanukovych
administration creates opportunities for a new generation of politicians to
come to power and lead political and economic reform.

THREE - Strategic Authoritarianism. Yanukovych’s administration manages to
meet the expectations of his elite backers and the public for “stability” and
economic growth. He stays in power throughout the decade and enjoys a
considerable amount of legitimacy, both at home and abroad.

Which scenario is most likely?
Well, I tend to agree with my Odessa friend that Scenario THREE - Strategic Authoritarianism
is the most likely future for Ukraine leading up to 2020, the time when President Yanukovych must step down as per the Constitution having complete two terms in office.

My friends blog can be seen here: Odessablog's Blog

The full Chatham House report can be seen here: Chatham House

There are many factual comments in the report which still concern me, namely the fact that
the number of SME's in Ukraine continues to decline along with any influence from business groups representing the SME sectors.

Retail Ideas

This is one of the best ideas about changing retail I have seen for a long time.

24 January 2012

Paying Taxes in Ukraine

Paying Taxes in Ukraine - Not Good Reading

In 2011, your typical Ukrainian firm had to make 135 tax payments (183rd place), spend 657 hours annually on tax compliance (175th place), and suffer a total tax rate of 57.1 percent (152nd place). In 2006, the first year of the Paying Taxes study, things were even worse. Although Ukraine was ranked 174th of 175 countries in terms of ease of paying taxes, its firms had to make 98 tax payments totaling 2,185 hours of compliance time and amounting to a 60.3 percent tax rate! By 2009, however, Ukraine had managed to make significant progress. Total tax payments had gone up to 147, but time to comply had fallen to 736 hours, and the tax rate had dropped to 57.2 percent.

See the Complete list of countries here:
http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/paying-taxes/data-tables.jhtml

See also:
See: http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/alexander-j-motyl/taxing-ukraine

20 January 2012

UKBA Introduce new Priority Visa Service to the UK

Priority Visa Service

The UK Border Agency in Ukraine will introduce a priority visa service in Kyiv from 16 January 2012.

You will be able pay an additional fee to fast track your application and have your visa application put on top of the queue. Only a limited number of priority visas will be sold each day on a first come, first served basis.

The priority visa service will be available to applicants submitting UK visit visa applications only. To apply for a priority visa you must complete and submit a UK visa application online as normal and book an online appointment to attend the UK's visa application centre, operated by VFS Global in Kyiv where you will be able to obtain further details about the priority service.

This service does not imply or guarantee in any way that by using the priority service you will be successful in your visa application. All visa applicants must meet the requirements of the UK Immigration rules. The amount paid for the priority service, as well as the visa application fee, is not refundable if the visa application is refused or, in exceptional cases, takes longer to process.

So, we now have another paid for service to help speed up the visa application process to the UK.
Anything that helps and makes things better is OK with me.....BUT, we also have the Premium Lounger Service where for an extra USD 200 an applicant can sit in a special lounge with free refreshments and have a special appointment where their application documents are checked by a member of staff from VFS (Outsourced agency).

The new 'priority service' does not explain the fees involved. I suppose this is made available at the time of application.

While on the subject of visas, maybe some people do not know that British people living in Ukraine have to go through the visa application process for their wife/husband each time they need a new visa to visit the UK. Usually every six months. The basic visa fee for a visitor is now £76. But what REALLY annoys British people, is that if they want to travel with their wife/husband to another EU country, they can obtain a visa for FREE if they travel to any one of the EU members states apart from the UK. Crazy or what?

See further details via the link.

18 January 2012

British National Anthem

Just thought I would remind a few people:


Here are the words:

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen.

16 January 2012

Back to Work in Ukraine

Well its Monday 16th January 2012 and its time to get back to work for the new year.
This is going to be one interesting year for Ukraine, UK , Europe and the world.
Lets go..........

07 January 2012

Sri Lanka to establish resident diplomatic mission in Ukraine

Sri Lanka to establish diplomat mission in Ukraine

Jan 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka cabinet in its first meeting in the new year has granted approval to establish a resident diplomatic mission in Ukraine.

Sri Lanka, has established a closer relationship with Ukraine at bilateral and multilateral levels following the establishment of diplomatic relations with the former Soviet Union state, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has noted in his proposal to the cabinet.

The Sri Lankan government says currently a range of agreements are in the process of being negotiated covering the fields of Education, Defence, Science and Technology, Ports and Shipping, Air Services and Trade among others.

The Ukrainian airline Aerosvit started regular direct non-stop flights between Kiev and Colombo, Sri Lanka in October 2011.

The Government of Ukraine, on a reciprocal basis, will establish a Resident Mission in Colombo, the Sri Lankan government said.

General Director of the British Business Club in Ukraine, Gerald Bowers said "This is good news for Ukraine, more and more Ukrainians will be encouraged to visit the paradise Island of Sri Lanka both for holidays and also to do some business there."

02 January 2012