Ukraine's National Investment Council
Thank you, Petro, for that very interesting summary of where you see Ukraine at the start of such an important year for your country.
When we met at the National Investment Council’s inaugural meeting in May, I remarked that bodies like this one are a great way to keep minds focussed on what really matters.
So it is very pleasing to learn that this focus has delivered such impressive results
And that so many of our recommendations from back then have been acted on.
You – and I hope everyone here tonight - know the EBRD – and me as its President – as loyal friends of Ukraine and energetic supporters of its reforms.
That is why I have made a particular point of visiting Ukraine so often and voicing our enthusiasm for its potential outside the country as well.
We are also your largest financial investor, with the overall total of our investments now well over €13 billion.
We know what we are talking about when it comes to Ukraine!
We are therefore very much aware of all the efforts – and indeed the sacrifices – that have been made to deliver the achievements of the last few years.
At the same time, we acknowledge that the progress made has not always been linear.
It has sometimes zig zagged from side to side.
I am sure that you would want us, as your friends, to be honest and tell you what we really think about our common endeavours.
As your friends, we also owe it to you to give praise when merited.
We recognise that, all in all, the progress of reforms in Ukraine has been substantial.
We congratulate all those who have contributed to that success.
And yet one of the key lessons we have learnt from recent experience is that no one should take the momentum for reforms for granted.
Inertia and even outright hostility to them are still out there.
And must be confronted head on.
I mentioned earlier that 2019 is going to be a very important year for Ukraine.
I say that because it will provide a key test of the country’s ability to maintain its strategic course at the same time as it engages in the cut and thrust of electoral politics.
I do not want to expand on that subject except to express the hope that Ukraine will pass that test.
Certainly, the signs from the end of last year were, overall, encouraging.
We were very heartened to see the approval of the IMF Stand-by Arrangement.
The successful tapping of the sovereign bond markets was also cheering.
And the release of the first payment of the EU Macro-Financial Assistance programme was another very welcome development.
The progress made in establishing the High Anticorruption Court and judicial reform in general was also very good news, especially as we were closely involved in nominating some of the experts who will select its judges.
Equally good news was the launch of the reform of state-owned banks. We were involved in that too, helping fund the consultants working on the draft law.
We now need to make sure that the setting up of independent boards proceeds smoothly and in a timely fashion, regardless of the electoral cycle.
Another area where I hope more can be done before the elections is the law on concessions.
Progress on that score would send a very positive signal to the investors Ukraine needs, introduce more private sector know how, provide better services and create more jobs.
You will not be surprised to hear that we are very active on this front as well, not least by helping the Infrastructure Ministry launch two pilot projects.
And, of course, Petro, we wholeheartedly support your aim of passing the Business Ombudsman law in the near future.
We were instrumental in setting up the Ombudsman’s office so it is a cause very dear to our hearts.
Ladies and gentlemen, even a cursory look at the issues at the top of the reform agenda highlights how close the relationship is between the EBRD and Ukraine
Last autumn we adopted a new strategy to guide our policy reform work and investments over the next five years.
Its priorities, which will be of interest to both potential investors and our many friends in Ukraine, include:
- Promoting privatisation and commercialisation in the public sector;
- Promoting the rule of law and fair competition in the private sector
- Strengthening energy security through effective regulation, market liberalisation, diversified and increased production and energy efficiency
- Enhancing the resilience of the financial system by strengthening Ukraine’s banking sector, and by developing capital markets and non-bank finance
- And improving integration by facilitating trade and investment, expanding infrastructure links, and supporting convergence with EU standards
As for actual investments on the ground, last year saw many examples of our having real impact in Ukraine.
I would hope too that they might inspire potential investors, some of them in this room tonight, to consider similar opportunities in the future.
If you do, we will be at your side.
Indeed, with more than 100 members of staff members in four offices across the country and lots of back up in London, we can help open many doors for you as you do so.
To mention just a few highlights from 2018, the day before the NIC meeting last May, if you recall, Petro, you opened the new Beskyd railway tunnel in the Carpathians.
It unblocks the worst bottleneck between East and West and really integrates Ukraine with pan-Europe transport networks. We financed it to the tune of €35 million.
Also in the transport sector, our €130 million loan to Ukraine Railways helps it acquire 6,500 new open freight wagons, a major boost to its investment programme.
We helped fund three solar plants in the Mykolaiv region with a loan of €18 million.
Finally, earlier this evening, I signed a very exciting project to build Ukraine’s largest windfarm, thus significantly enhancing its energy independence and security and providing yet more evidence of its shift towards renewable power.
Our two partners in this project, Total EREN and NBT, are very much global players. But they are committing to Ukraine because they have faith in the country’s prospects and its potential.
I can think of no better way to end my remarks tonight than by urging you to follow their example and show similar faith in Ukraine and its future.
We have done this over and over ourselves and are extremely happy with the return on our investment.
I am sure you will be too.