The Minister of Economy is working on bringing the flow of capital/finances to Ukraine and reducing the staff of the Ministry’s administration.
“Today, the principal task of the government is to de-escalate the conflict in the Crimea and to start peaceful negotiations with Russia”, said Pavlo Sheremeta, the Minister of Economy. He has stressed that regarding the economy, it is now important to ensure the receipt of financial resources for Ukraine.
“The situation in the Crimea seems very unstable, however, a slight de-escalation has occurred in past few days, and we are satisfied with it. We would like to further de-escalate the situation as much as possible, to direct it into a peaceful course, and to resolve the situation without military action through negotiations and discussions,” Sheremeta said at a briefing, which took place at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.
“We do understand that everyone is worried and concerned, however, we believe that there are enough resources in Ukraine to deal with this (the conflict in the Crimea – Auth.). Nevertheless, everything has to be discussed at the negotiating table and not by pointing guns at each other,” he added.
In addition, Sheremeta has reported that he considers the decision to conduct a referendum in the Crimea to be unconstitutional. The Minister has emphasized that all public matters with the Crimean population must be discussed and resolved within the framework of the constitution.
“We have numerous scenarios in how to resolve the issue, however, we lack internal resources to work them out. As a matter of principle, I would not like to discuss the unconstitutional scenario. The main thing is to bring everything back to the Constitutional framework”, the Minister commented with regard to the decision to conduct the referendum in the Crimea.According to Sheremeta, the normal functioning of the Crimea as a resort zone would be the best contribution to the economic development of Ukraine. However, it will not be possible for as long as there are armed men are on the streets of the peninsula, and the conflict remains unresolved.
“We are disturbed by the situation in the Crimea, with relation to the tourism potential as well. People will be deciding where to go in the next month, and clearly the Crimea will not be the first choice on their lists. Let’s de-escalate the tension, put down the weapons, as this will not attract tourists. Let’s show Crimea’s beauty. This would be the biggest contribution to the Crimean budget”, he stated.
In respect of the state of the Ukrainian economy, the Minister has noted that the situation is not as bad as it seems. “The good news is, the economy is not as bad as the state finances. That is where the things are disastrous, not the economy. It has to be divided. The figures, which we have on sectors, do not look very good, but they are not negative. This gives us reason to think that the economy is still holding on,” he said. In his opinion, first and foremost the liquidity of banks and security on the streets in Ukraine have to be ensured, which in turn will give the entrepreneurs confidence in safely conducting business in Ukraine. Furthermore, the ministry is planning to prepare the launching ground to bring Ukraine into the top ten countries for easy business conduction.
Sheremeta has also pointed out that today that the principal economic task is to ensure the flow of finances to Ukraine. “The IMF mission is currently in Kyiv, closely studying the situation, and will be ready to put forth its proposals next week’” the minister said.
The next priority for the Ministry of Economy will be optimizing the process of carrying out state procurement. According to Sheremeta, the ministry has already come up with several versions of a draft law aimed at controlling corruption and making the state procurement process transparent to the greatest possible extent. The following draft laws will be considered by the Cabinet of Ministers next week, and later by the Parliament, he reported.
“Maidan has demanded the elimination of corruption, particularly this has to be implemented in the field of state procurements… It is cancer, which eats the country from inside and it has to be immediately eliminated,” the minister added.
In addition, the Minister believes that so far Maidan’s impact on the work of the government has been maintaining positive dynamics.
“In its current form, Maidan plays an important role; it is a constant reminder to the new government and executive officials of the reasons for human protest. Currently Maidan wishes to have more guarantees that the country will not return to the way it was. This will help to guarantee free and democratic elections”, he said.
Sheremeta has also added that Ukraine needs to focus on developing the country’s human capital assets, and particularly on the professionalism and qualitative indicators of work of each hired employee.
Sheremeta has also noted the important EU signals, received by Ukraine. First off, it referred to the prospects of membership in the EU and the visa regime liberalization. In addition, the Agreement on Association between Ukraine and the EU can be signed immediately upon the presidential elections, the minister believes.
“We must understand that the agreement with the EU is a two-way road. There can be some delay; we can sign it after the presidential elections. We want and we are ready to sign it, but the three-month delay will do no harm,” he said.
Sheremeta further shared that he is currently actively working on reducing the staff of the Ministry of Economy. According to him, the Ministry’s administration basically “got stuck in the 16th century.”
“Reducing the number of employees is an instrument, however it must not be done mechanically. I am surprised at the ideas, skills, and professionalism of certain employees. Yet their number has to be reduced, and it shall be implemented reasonably. It will not save the budget, but would be the right signal to society that we have started with ourselves”, he said.
In conclusion Sheremeta has stated that the main tasks, which were imposed on the new government, have been already fulfilled, and he thanked all of his other representatives for their efforts and support. The minister has also expressed his gratitude to the Western countries, which have supported Ukraine in these difficult conditions.
Translated by Katherina Smirnova
Edited by Alan J. Beckett