Friday, December 5, 2014

One Year After Defying Putin, Ukraine Is Choking on Its Own Red Tape - Bloomberg

Thirteen floors above a snow-covered complex on the outskirts of Kiev, in a half-built high-rise, Egor Popov wondered aloud when the warren of dusty rooms would be ready for move-in: maybe next year, probably not.

Presales on the 1,210-unit Sun Gate’s fourth wing, still a concrete-and-brick skeleton accessible only by a shaky open-air elevator, may be delayed, he said. Not because of a lack of financing or demand for flats. The issue is the nine layers of red tape and graft requests that are part of finishing the project, said Popov, a spokesman for TMM Real Estate Development Plc (TR61), Ukraine’s only publicly listed developer.

A year after Ukrainians rose up against the pro-Russian policies of then-President Viktor Yanukovych, business leaders still wait for an end to corruption and cronyism, promised by the revolution’s leaders. Even as war rages in the east and the deepest recession since 2009 shows no sign of lifting, the president, premier and foreign minister said in the past week that graft is the nation’s biggest threat. Ukraine ranks as Europe’s worst on Transparency International’s corruption index.

Standoff in Ukraine

“Man cannot live by patriotism alone,” said Popov as blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags fluttered from balcony railings across the courtyard. “The year that’s passed hasn’t brought many positive things to ordinary people. Bureaucracy and corruption just haven’t changed.”

As foreign investors flee the former Soviet republic, Ukraine relies on a $17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to stay afloat. The hryvnia has lost 45 percent against the dollar this year, the biggest decline among all currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Central bank reserves are at $12.6 billion, the lowest level since March 2005.

It may get worse. IMF negotiators left Kiev on Nov. 25 without an agreement needed for disbursement of a $2.8 billion installment of the loan. Two days later, lawmakers met one of the key concerns by agreeing on a government coalition, a month after snap parliamentary elections.

Lawmakers approved a new cabinet today following October elections. The cabinet’s “key challenge” will be to fight “total corruption,” President Petro Poroshenko said last week. The new government includes three foreign nationals, including Ukrainian-American Natalie Jaresko, the Harvard-educated chief executive officer of Horizon Capital Associates LLC, as finance minister.

Complete story at - One Year After Defying Putin, Ukraine Is Choking on Its Own Red Tape - Bloomberg

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