Ukraine surprised the world. It's time to surprise Ukrainians

17:40, 10 September 2015
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Opinion

"Ukraine has surprised the world! Surprised by what it managed to achieve in such a short period of time… In a difficult period, in difficult circumstances you have achieved macroeconomic stability that persists, and your economy shows signs of recovery,” Christine Lagarde, chief of the International Monetary Fund, said during her recent, first ever, visit to Kyiv.

Following the devaluation of the hryvnia, food prices have doubled, the price of clothes and medicines jumped by three times, while the savings of millions of Ukrainians are now impaired or stuck in troubled banks

Among the main factors that contributed to economic recovery, the UMF chief called the recovery of the banking sector. However, she reminded once again of the need to combat corruption that devours the country from within, and promised to provide support of the IMF.

But what is there to surprise the whole world and the IMF Governor in particular given little to no changes for ordinary Ukrainians over the past year and? Economy-wise, the changes were mostly negative. Utility tariffs became simply unfeasible to some families, food prices doubled following the devaluation of the hryvnia, the price for clothes and medicines jumped by three times, while the savings of millions of Ukrainians are now impaired or stuck in troubled banks. Mandatory vaccines against deadly diseases have disappeared from clinics for children, while the elderly were deprived of many social benefits. Are these the “reforms” Ms. Lagarde was talking about?

According to the IMF assistance program, the marker of Ukraine’s economic recovery would be the country’s economic growth by 2% in 2016, but there remains a risk of a continuing war in Donbas, a significant reduction in citizens’ incomes against the background of uncontrolled inflation, as well as the likelihood of delay in implementation of reforms. In particular, the IMF considers the new Tax Code, as well as the start of pension reform as structural beacons. The Fund estimates that the Code must be submitted to Parliament in September, and the pension legislation - in December. The key beacons in the energy sector will be overcoming the deficit of Naftogaz and increasing social subsidies... And a lot of other statistics.

Politicians pledge a better life for the Ukrainians without really explaining what this better life is

The officials never stop boasting important changes, reporting dry statistics to prove their relevance and importance. For example, Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko assured the Ukrainians on Facebook that they will soon be able to feel the effect of the economic recovery in the form of economic growth, renewed investment and new jobs.

The people have paid a high price for "living a new life"  in the form of a military tax, rising prices and lost social benefits, not to mention the thousands of people killed in the conflict. It would be great to see, what this price has been paid for

Politicians pledge a better life for the Ukrainians without really explaining what this better life is. They put European countries as an example, but what’s the point if half of our population has never left their home region?

What is a marker of efficiency of reforms for ordinary Ukrainians? Of course, there are hardly any romantics left, who expect that one can live comfortably at the state’s expense, without actually working. The people have paid a high price for "living a new life" [Petro Poroshenko’s slogan during presidential election campaign in 2014]  in the form of a military tax, rising prices and lost social benefits, not to mention the thousands of people killed in the conflict. It would be great to see, what this price has been paid for

What do we get in return and, most importantly, when do we get it? When and how will the pressing challenges be solved?

Until when will the kindergartens and schools exist at the parents’ expense while teachers – count each kopiyka of their miserable salaries? Why not make a mandatory record system in the clinics so that the patients can recover from their illness rather than spend weeks on collecting dozens of pieces of paper in different offices? Why is that there are no medicines in public hospitals? Why are the pharmacies full of imported drugs, while there are no cheap Ukraine-made analogues on the shelves?

Why do the elderly have to come to cities from distant villages to apply for subsidies? Wouldn’t it be better to send a couple of officials over to their homes, collect data and add it to a database? What does all this army of bureaucrats do, after all?

Where do the billions of hryvnias go if they are allegedly not being stolen from the budget anymore like it was under Yanukovych rule?

When will the combatant status be given to only real ATO fighters instead of those who make a selfie in Donbas?

Ukraine might have surprised the whole world. Now it is time to answer these questions and start surprising the Ukrainian people.

Olha Hordienko

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