Kyiv, 21 September 2006 – New report from Blue Ribbon Commission highlights eight high-priority reforms; calls on new Government, Parliament to make up for lost time b_87_58_16777215_00_images_content_news_767.jpg Kyiv, 21 September 2006 – New report from Blue Ribbon Commission highlights eight high-priority reforms; calls on new Government, Parliament to make up for lost time
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A new report issued by the Blue Ribbon Commission, an independent body of eminent national and international experts that operates with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has identified eight high-priority reforms that the new Government and Parliament need urgently to enact to promote growth and better living standards in Ukraine. While saluting the positive measures that have been implemented since the Orange Revolution, the report warns that in many areas time has been wasted and reforms are long overdue.

“Ukraine has a new political landscape, so this is an ideal time to take stock of achievements and shortcomings and revisit the agenda of national development priorities,” explained Kalman Mizsei, who as UNDP Regional Director for Europe and the CIS founded the Blue Ribbon Commission in 2004. “A concerted reform effort is needed to put Ukraine on a path of dynamic, long-term growth that will give the country the international prominence it so richly deserves.”

As top priorities, the report urges the Government and Parliament to:
· Cap the budget deficit at the 2005 level and drive inflation under 10 per cent by foregoing any new increase in social spending.

· Promptly pass the legislation needed to complete WTO accession and refrain from re-opening negotiations.

· Commit to and undertake large-scale, transparent privatization.

· Lift the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land.

· Abolish the Economic (Commercial) Code and pass and implement a joint-stock company law.

· Pass and begin vigorous enforcement of legislation on access to information and conflict of interest.

· Complete the establishment of one-stop shops for business registration and reduce to a minimum the paperwork and permits required.

· Move towards balancing the Pension Fund by freezing minimum pensions, eliminating privileged pensions, and beginning a gradual increase in the retirement age.

These eight priority recommendations are culled from a detailed analysis that addresses the challenges faced by Ukraine in four main areas: 1) building a democratic state and sound institutions; 2) ensuring macroeconomic stability; 3) improving the business and investment environment; and 3) building a better social policy. The report treats good governance as the starting point for all reform. Making the Government more efficient and accountable is a precondition for success in all other areas. Greater prosperity depends on a return to the high rates of economic growth seen earlier in this decade, but a tighter budget, higher energy prices, and more challenging trade conditions make achieving rapid growth more difficult. De-regulation, transparent privatization, and enforcement of property rights are needed to spur investment and business activity. Stronger growth rather than redistribution is also seen as key to improving social welfare. Although big increases in pensions and social spending have reduced poverty, structural reforms have been neglected and much inefficiency persists.

“This document is intended to help the President, the Government, and the Verkhovna Rada to shape policy in coming months, and also to give Ukrainian civil society a useful tool to monitor reform progress in key areas,” said Francis M. O’Donnell, UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine. “UNDP stands ready to support these efforts in order to promote sustained economic growth and thus close the income gap between Ukraine and its Western neighbors.”

Full text of the report is available here.
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For media inquiries, please contact Snizhana Kolomiiets, Regional Communication specialist, UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS, Tel. + 7 916 107-9416, e-mail Snizhana.kolomiiets@undp.org and Mariya Klymovych, Communication assistant, UNDP Ukraine, tel. +380 44 254-00-35, e-mail: mariya.klymovych@undp.org.ua