27 February 2014

The New Ukraine

Last night the proposed members of the new interim government in Ukraine were introduced to the people standing at Maidan. Today the parliament will decide and vote. Maybe there will be some further changes but at least by the end of today the country should have a new government.
Changes are taking place very quickly in the ‘New Ukraine’. Many changes can only be for the better and here are a few that I and many others would like to witness further:

1. Corruption – It has to stop at ALL levels in Ukraine. It would appear that everyone knew that Yanukovych and his regime were stealing money from the country and it was well known that ‘government people’ would never do anything to help you unless you provided some financial incentive. But it is not just those at the top who were corrupt. All throughout the system of government including the vast majority of state employees people were expecting a bribe. If you didn’t provide what they wanted then it was guaranteed you would have many problems. For example trying to obtain a work permit, residents permit, building permit, electricity connection the list is endless……there would be someone in the chain who wanted a payoff and sometimes these payoffs were huge in comparison to the work required. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP immediately.

2. Respect For The Rule of Law – This will be a difficult one. There is no culture of respect for laws in Ukraine. People do not abide by agreements. If Ukraine really wants to be a ‘European country’ it must stop acting like the wild east in the early days of post-soviet Ukraine. The police are in Ukraine are probably the most corrupt in Europe. Judges in the courts just cannot be trusted and bribes decide most decisions. Massive changes are required in the legal system. But maybe the one positive thing is that from now on people will no longer be afraid of the police.

3. Goodbye Government Mafia – The Yanukovych regime had zero respect for the citizens of Ukraine. Members of the government and parliament acted like they were far superior to everyone.  Drivers in Kyiv would witness the way that the regime would travel around in their expensive cars at high speed with total disregard for the law and other people. I doubt we will see any more showing off from Bentley/Roll Royce/ Mercedes drivers/owners. The government and parliament need to show RESPECT towards people.

4. Free from Oligarch Control – The country can no longer be controlled by a few billionaires. If they all disappeared today the country would still function without them. They are not gods but people who took advantage of post-soviet Ukraine and acquired many assets quickly. Moreover these few billionaires are not needed in parliament or government.

5. Free The Banks from Government Control – The new government needs to be reminded that soviet days are over, finished, no more. The Ministry of Income/Finance or whatever it will be called now should NOT be controlling what banks can do with their customers. Tax payments by individuals and businesses are NOT the responsibility of banks. The National Bank of Ukraine needs to stop acting like big bad brother. If someone wants to send a little money to their relatives in another country they should NOT have to jump through hurdles created by the government. Likewise receiving money into Ukraine should not be a nightmare experience for bank customers. THE PEOPLE MUST BE FREE TO DECIDE.

6. Allow a FREE MARKET ECONOMY to develop – Prices are far too high for many goods in Ukraine and in particular in the capital city of Kyiv. Ukrainians who have travelled to other countries are always shocked to discover how much cheaper they can by goods outside Ukraine. Clothes, food, cars, and even property are far too expensive in Ukraine and are the result of high margins set by traders. Ukrainians need to wake up and stop paying crazy high prices for simple goods and services. Why should Ukraine be more expensive than EU countries? Small and medium size enterprises need to be given the opportunities to develop in Ukraine through a genuine free market and not be controlled by big companies or government.

None of this will be easy. The new government will have tough decisions to make. Presidential elections will be held on 25th May and we all hope that a clear winner is chosen by the people and that the election process is void of any corruption. However the country also needs to make a clean sweep of the parliament and hold elections sometime during 2014.

This year Ukraine can finally bring about the changes that are badly needed to set the country on a path towards greater prosperity for all its citizens and not just a select few as in the past.
I’m sure the majority of people from Western Europe welcome the development of a New Ukraine.

No comments: